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: Frost/Nixon (2008)  ( 15288 )
dave jenkins
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« #15 : January 10, 2009, 09:37:05 PM »

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His drunken nighttime phone call to Frost is one of the movie's highpoints, where he spews his rage and disappointment to a not-unwilling listener, and the final debate where he's cornered into admitting his guilt is one of the best pieces of acting ever filmed. Langella is simply marvellous, giving one of the best performances I've seen.
But did these things actually happen? I appreciate that you are looking at the film entirely as an entertainment, but ultimately, how it does or doesn't serve the historical record is an issue that has to be addressed. If this were about a fictional former head of a fictional country, interviewed by a fictional host, we wouldn't give the material any attention at all. The drama, good as it may be, is not enough. The actual Frost-Nixon interviews are available on DVD: wouldn't it be interesting to compare those with Frost/Nixon?



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« #16 : January 10, 2009, 09:44:33 PM »

The phone call didn't, but that's dramatic license. I haven't sen the interviews so I have no comment there; I'm taking the film as self-contained until I do. That's not really my concern as a critic (should I have the conceit to call myself such).



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« #17 : January 12, 2009, 02:59:52 AM »

Damn, I was hoping for this to be a twink film.

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« #18 : January 30, 2009, 09:30:28 AM »

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Frost/Nixon’ - Lies, Damn Lies and Dramatizations [Excerpt]

Posted By Geoff Shepard On January 30, 2009 @ 5:15 am

Background:

The movie is a dramatization about the taping of almost thirty hours of interviews done by British TV host David Frost with former President Richard Nixon, with the help of Frost’s two researchers, Bob Zelnick and James Reston, Jr. The edited version—four ninety minute segments–was broadcast in 1977 to great critical acclaim and drew the then-largest worldwide audience for a news interview—with an estimated forty-six million viewers in America alone.

The movie’s difficulty is that from Nixon’s furtive glance after giving the victory sign as he boarded the helicopter on the day of his resignation to the vignette about the Gucci loafers, its most dramatic moments bear little resemblance to what actually happened during the interviews themselves. How can we know this for sure? For those caring to look, there are three primary sources—all prepared by Frost or one of his researchers.

First, a DVD exists of the actual broadcasts, issued in Great Britain with an afterword by Sir David Frost. While readily available, apparently none of the movie’s reviewers saw fit to view the actual broadcast, since they show that time and again the movie version alters, omits or improperly edits what was actually said by Nixon and by Frost.

Second, there Frost’s own book, published in 1978 and entitled, “I Gave Them a Sword”: Behind the Scenes of the Nixon Interviews. As the inside scoop on ‘the story behind the story’, at least from Frost’s point of view, anything of significance not actually contained in the taped interviews themselves would surely have been mentioned in his 320 page book.

Finally, there is the 181 page booklet by James Reston, Jr. that was published in 2007. Entitled, “The Conviction of Richard Nixon, The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews,” it attempts—albeit some thirty years later—a rather audacious historical re-write designed to show how he (and he alone) brought Nixon down by discovering an unknown tape recording whose last minute use by Frost was not only the ‘gotcha moment’ in the interviews, but proves Nixon was at the center of the Watergate cover-up.

The booklet was hardly a critical success—and Reston’s claim so patently absurd as to be dismissed entirely– but for one reader: Peter Morgan, who based his stage play on Reston’s version of events. Reston—and not Frost—also is the one on whom Ron Howard relied for any historic accuracy in the movie. As we shall see, their reliance was entirely misplaced.

While the movie fairly portrays the Frost team’s extensive preparations and his two researchers’ massive disappointment in Frost’s seeming inability to nail Nixon on either foreign or domestic initiatives of his presidency, its portrayal of Nixon’s actions and statements is patently fraudulent.

Fortunately, while awaiting announcement of the Academy Awards, we can review what was actually filmed or written by the very people on Frost’s team that appear in the movie—and contrast that to the movie’s version of events. This is not a situation of being faced with competing claims from Nixon supporters; it is an exercise in comparing what Frost said happened then—and what people have been filmed as saying in the movie.

Specifics:

At least three participants are unfairly maligned in “Frost/Nixon”: David Frost, who is portrayed as a washed up, witless dandy; Jack Brennan, Nixon’s aide-de-camp, who is cast the heavyweight protecting Nixon from himself; and former President Nixon, who is portrayed by Frank Langella as doing and saying things Nixon simply did not do or say.

Let us begin with a simple example: The movie would have us believe that David Frost picked up Caroline Cushing on his flight to California by offering to include her in his first meeting with Nixon, scheduled for the very next day. In his book, Frost carefully details that first meeting, naming all participants–without any mention of Cushing. Yet he does mention her appearance and participation in several other events. A harmless dramatization? A little white lie just to show where Frost’s interests really lay? Perhaps, but factually incorrect and a substantial disservice to both Frost and Cushing.

Another dramatization has to do with the Gucci loafers worn by Frost and commented upon by Nixon. The movie ends with Frost giving Nixon a pair as a gift—apparently oblivious to the fact that Nixon disdained them as effeminate. Isn’t it intriguing that this little vignette—which provides such clear insight into the personalities of both Nixon and Frost–is nowhere mentioned in Frost’s own book? Oh, it could have happened—but it didn’t. The Gucci loafer scenes are a complete and knowing fabrication.

Aside from such dramatizations, there are far more serious breaches of historic accuracy, including:

    • Interview Payment: Frost not only paid Nixon $600,000 for the interviews (as claimed), he also promised him twenty percent of the profits—an omitted fact that shows the project was more of a joint venture between Nixon and Frost. For the most part, they were not adversaries; they had a common interest in the interviews being acclaimed and widely distributed.

    • Unsettling Pre-Interview Questions: The claimed pattern of Nixon asking Frost seemingly innocent but deliberately unsettling questions as each taping session was about to begin continues this deliberate misrepresentation: by and large, the interviews were not an adversarial proceeding.

    • Opening Question: While the opening question (about why Nixon did not destroy the tapes) did indeed occur, Frost’s book notes that he had informed Jack Brennan of his intent and obtained Brennan’s concurrence before that morning’s filming began—so Nixon was hardly surprised at the question–and no doubt agreed it would heighten viewer interest.

    • “Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal”: Nixon actually made this statement during their interview, but it was in the context of why members of any administration should not have to worry about being indicted by a later administration based upon a differing legal interpretation. While others might disagree, this is precisely the point the outgoing Bush administration would make about their aggressive questioning of certain terrorists (i.e.: waterboarding): If done under presidential order after full legal review, those carrying out the instruction should not be subject to second-guessing—or government employees could never feel safe in carrying out presidential directives. The movie’s treatment is a deliberate and substantive misrepresentation.

    • Brennan’s Threat to Ruin Frost: Brennan made the statement, but in the context of improper editing (where Nixon’s responses might be omitted) and not with regard to any questioning about Watergate. In fact, Frost characterizes their exchange as sort of an informal compact that he would fairly present Nixon’s accomplishments and they would not try to stonewall questions about Watergate.

    • Midnight Phone Call: Among the most dramatic moments of the film is Nixon’s late night call to Frost, supposedly after having too much to drink—surely a poignant moment where Nixon reveals his inner torments. Since no mention whatsoever of this call is made in Frost’s book, we can only conclude it to be another complete and deliberate fabrication.

    • Brennan Interruption: Another telling and dramatic movie moment occurs as Nixon (purportedly) is about to confess to the crimes of Watergate and Brennan deliberately invades the set to interrupt the proceedings. In truth—as written by Frost himself—Brennan merely held up a sign saying, “Let him talk”, and it was Frost himself who decided to call for a time out in the filming—by telling Nixon they needed time to change tapes–with the intent of enabling Nixon to collect his thoughts before proceeding. Frost details his following discussion with Brennan, but makes no mention whatever of Brennan then counseling Nixon in private.

    • Nixon “Confession”: In the movie version, Nixon is caught by his own words on the tapes and confesses to being a part of the Watergate cover-up. But his words from those interviews were changed in the movie version. What Nixon did (which was most appropriate) was to apologize to the Nation for his mistakes during Watergate—rather a distinct difference. Frost’s book details how everyone—on both teams—seemed pleased with their Watergate exchange. Indeed, even the 1977 DVD cover blurb characterizes that part of the interview as, “culminating in the unprecedented sight of a president apologizing to his people.”

    • Farewell Meeting: The movie ends with Frost calling upon Nixon in his San Clemente home following the broadcasts and that Nixon, dressed in shirt sleeves and musing about golfing in retirement, implies that he had been unmasked and undone. In contrast, Frost wrote that he had met with Nixon for their final time in his office just after the second program on foreign policy had been broadcast [i.e.: before any broadcast of their Watergate segment]–so no such observations by Nixon could have occurred. There is no mention of shirt sleeves, only an allusion to Nixon’s staff always being careful to wear coats and ties when entering his office. By then, Nixon was hard at work on his Memoirs, the second of the ten books he would write. While Frost doesn’t dare say so, it is even possible they congratulated each other on the apparent success of their venture.


Full article here:  http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/gshepard/2009/01/30/frostnixon-lies-damn-lies-and-dramatizations/



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« #19 : January 30, 2009, 09:56:08 AM »

Great article Jinkies, thanks for posting. It doesn't alter my opinion of the film in and of itself, but it has dwindled somewhat in my mind in the weeks since I've seen it; certainly more than Doubt, Slumdog or Benjamin Button. I'd have to watch it again but I doubt it will hold up as well to repeat viewings as the similarly themed/constructed Charlie Wilson's War, which I've watched 3-4 times and still enjoy a great deal. I doubt I'll think much about this film over the coming months, or bother to buy the DVD.

« : January 30, 2009, 10:00:54 AM Groggy »


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« #20 : January 30, 2009, 11:06:03 AM »

I'm kinda interested in having the DVD of the actual interviews just to be clear about what was said. I can't see any purpose in having a DVD of the pseudo-interviews.



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« #21 : February 17, 2009, 03:25:22 PM »

Good thriller. 8\10


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« #22 : February 17, 2009, 03:48:11 PM »

I'm not sure I'd consider it a thriller, but I guess that's not horribly inaccurate



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« #23 : February 17, 2009, 09:25:19 PM »

Thriller? eh...no

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« #24 : June 01, 2011, 07:07:30 AM »

Finally watched this: I must say it wasn't great, but it had bits that came close to that classification, and a truly magnificent performance by Frank Langella. And it was fairly... entertaining... Hm, believe it or not, and I don't mean for a political thriller/drama. I did not find it very dramatic, actually, which was a good thing. Usually, with this sort of flicks, the risk is pretty high they'll overdo it, but here they didn't, to my surprise, almost as if they weren't even trying. Again, aside Langella's Nixon the others (including Sheen's Frost) were mere fillers, which seems right, as this is the only movie about him (that I know of) that doesn't demonize him, and/or engage in circus acts with his persona. Very sympathetic portrayal.


(around a) 7.5/10

« : June 01, 2011, 07:09:21 AM Dust Devil »
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« #25 : June 01, 2011, 07:10:19 AM »

I don't much care for the real stuff but this is worth a watch.

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« #26 : June 01, 2011, 11:03:45 AM »

Finally watched this: I must say it wasn't great, but it had bits that came close to that classification, and a truly magnificent performance by Frank Langella. And it was fairly... entertaining... Hm, believe it or not, and I don't mean for a political thriller/drama. I did not find it very dramatic, actually, which was a good thing. Usually, with this sort of flicks, the risk is pretty high they'll overdo it, but here they didn't, to my surprise, almost as if they weren't even trying. Again, aside Langella's Nixon the others (including Sheen's Frost) were mere fillers, which seems right, as this is the only movie about him (that I know of) that doesn't demonize him, and/or engage in circus acts with his persona. Very sympathetic portrayal.


(around a) 7.5/10

Not a fan of the Oliver Stone movie?

I might even argue this film is excessively sympathetic to Nixon, but what do I know?



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« #27 : June 01, 2011, 01:37:23 PM »

Not a fan of the Oliver Stone movie?

Tried watching it a couple of times in years back, until I gave up (very probably for good). Very, very tedious (though Hopkins wasn't that bad).

I might even argue this film is excessively sympathetic to Nixon, but what do I know?

What's there to argue? :P

« : June 01, 2011, 01:38:51 PM Dust Devil »
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« #28 : June 01, 2011, 01:48:37 PM »

This is interesting (Langella): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhQJ_1JdTyw

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