And Then You Destroy Yourself: Nixon at the Movies

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I may have seen the first, can't remember, but definitely not the second--thanks.

You're welcome; the channel, which is actually named OBSOLETE Video (I keep getting that wrong even though I'm subscribed to it) is fantastic for watching Watergate-era news broadcasts recorded using early home TV recording technology. It's fascinating seeing news broadcasts dated from 1972 that seem very innocent and almost naïve compared to the news broadcasts from 1974. BTW, we don't see a narrative to current events because we're too busy living through them, but with the distance of time we'll be able to "have a pretty good handle on" what's going on right now with the corrupt orange bastard.

The Colour of Spring (deethelurker), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 18:41 (eight months ago) link

The Pentagon Papers has always been the Aleph to Watergate.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 19:11 (eight months ago) link

if the BBC documentary aired in the '90s and has interviews with most of the living players (including a flanneled Haldeman), then I've seen it and it's excellent.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 19:16 (eight months ago) link

Some elaboration on my blue-suit aside, the most interesting new thing I learned watching part 1. Everyone knows the standard story about the first Nixon-Kennedy debate: Nixon won post-debate polls among radio listeners but lost with TV viewers because he came across as shifty-eyed, had a bad case of five-o-clock shadow, and was sick with the flu besides. But Nixon (in voice-over) also suggested that his gray suit looked really terrible against the neutral backdrop, whereas Kennedy's dark suit stood out. Except his suit was gray only if you were watching in black-and-white; he had a rather youthful-looking powder-blue suit on, which actually looked kind of sporty next to Kennedy's dark-blue suit. The accompanying visual supported what seemed like a pretty astute reading, I thought.

(Yes, they also talked about the world during that debate.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 22:13 (eight months ago) link

Keep in mind that in 1960 almost everyone was watching in black-and-white and didn’t see the youthful powder-blue suit; color TV had only been around for 6 years at that point

Lee626, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:01 (eight months ago) link

I think that's what he meant--that because virtually no one was watching in colour, that possible advantage evaporated. I've never seen any mention of the suit anywhere, and I've read a ton on Nixon, so that was really interesting to me. Having said that, there's the small possibility it would have taken more than a good-looking suit to make Nixon more photogenic than Kennedy...

clemenza, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:13 (eight months ago) link

I realized that right after I posted it (from a phone)

Lee626, Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:18 (eight months ago) link

Also: Anyone who had a color TV in '60 was probably already leaning Nixon.

a large tuna called “Justice” (C. Grisso/McCain), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:22 (eight months ago) link

i watched the actual debate on youtube for the first time a couple years ago. in the context of 2016, i have to say that nixon's "bad" performance didn't register nearly as sharply as it once did. i feel like i've read countless descriptions of these debates that made them sound like the beginning of the reality-tv age, with an inexperienced candidate beating an experienced one due to his good looks and charm -- but if anything the debate seemed almost absurdly serious and issue-based compared to what we get these days. at one point i think they spend like 10 minutes talking about farm subsidies, or something like that. tbh, if i hadn't known who nixon was or the kind of president he would become, my response to the debate would probably have been to envy the voters of 1960 who got to choose between these two remarkably qualified and intelligent candidates.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 19 March 2019 23:34 (eight months ago) link

The CNN thing made the valid point that Nixon had to be mindful of his reputation--Hiss, Helen Gahagan Douglas--and downplay the already entrenched perception that he was ruthless. So his supporters thought he wasn't aggressive enough and came across as almost deferential to Kennedy (which he actually was anyway).

(xpost) True--but I bet Nixon would tell you that Kennedy's "Harvard boys" owned all the colour TVs. (Sure sign I've seen Oliver Stone's film too many times: I hear "Harvard boys" in Anthony Hopkins' voice.)

clemenza, Wednesday, 20 March 2019 00:27 (eight months ago) link

Part 2 tonight. Or at least I hope it doesn't get cancelled for an extra hour of nocollusionnocollusion talk.

clemenza, Sunday, 24 March 2019 21:08 (eight months ago) link

Which is exactly what they've done--not happy at all.

clemenza, Monday, 25 March 2019 01:09 (eight months ago) link

ha, I interrupted Animal Crackers to turn on CNN for the first time since December.

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 25 March 2019 01:23 (eight months ago) link

three weeks pass...

The CNN series finished tonight. When Nixon resigned, his approval was 29%, the Supreme Court had just ruled against him 8-0, and his party was starting to line up against him. I've read a thousand variations on this story, but the distance from there to here is still astounding.

clemenza, Monday, 15 April 2019 02:22 (eight months ago) link

Was it good? I've been skeptical of CNN series after their decades ones. I did watch this 2018 Watergate documentary over the weekend, and found it fairly gripping. They had actors re-enacting the transcripts, which was a bit cheesy at first but often worked for me — it drove the point home a bit more to see "Nixon" ranting about "liberal Jews" or hush money as part of regular conversation rather than a tinny recording or words on paper. Wish it had touched a bit more on the public reaction to the transcripts, though; Perlstein's Invisible Bridge has a great bit on all the moral conservatives clutching their pearls on discovering Nixon's vulgarity. (IIRC, Nixon once scolded Truman for un-presidential language by using "damn" in a public statement.)

blatherskite, Monday, 15 April 2019 18:59 (eight months ago) link

I actually enjoy those decade shows...The Nixon series was 97% contemporaneous audio and video, which was great. I'd seen a lot of it already, but there was stuff I'd never seen or heard. Definitely caught Nixon at his worst: besides the racial epithets, you hear him saying that the opening of China was exactly the sort of thing that "the grey middle America" ate up because they were suckers. Definite allusions to Trump throughout, especially the ending.

clemenza, Monday, 15 April 2019 22:38 (eight months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Watched black dynamite on mubi, pretty good

milkshake chuk (wins), Sunday, 12 May 2019 18:29 (seven months ago) link

one month passes...

When the first explanatory title of Charles Ferguson's Watergate - Or, How We Learned to Stop an Out-of-Control President had to do with re-enactments and 100% true, my heart sank--was I really sitting down to four-plus hours of re-enactments? (I read as little as possible ahead of seeing a film, and I'd read nothing on this one.) Happily, no. They appear somewhat regularly in Part 1, almost not at all in Part 2; in total, there's maybe 20 minutes' worth. They're all inside the Oval Office, most prefaced by a real audio clip from the tapes. They're kind of awful, and I'm not sure why they're there.

The rest is quite good, especially all the footage from the hearings, where you usually just get Dean, Butterfield, and maybe Mitchell; there's much more here. (Why doesn't someone release the entire hearings on DVD? I know TV networks were pretty bad at archiving stuff then, but the footage must exist somewhere.) Two biggest revelations: one, Elizabeth Holtzman, the AOC of her day every which way; two, how badly compromised Howard Baker's "What does the President know..." question was. It wasn't heroic--he was a mole for the administration, and the question was meant to get Dean to perjure himself. In all that I've read and seen on Watergate, I don't think I ever knew that.

clemenza, Monday, 17 June 2019 04:30 (five months ago) link

By the way--today is the anniversary of the break-in.

clemenza, Monday, 17 June 2019 18:15 (five months ago) link


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