Monday, January 05, 2009


We managed to see Frost/Nixon over the weekend. The movie is still in limited release.

This is a great movie. It deserves a best picture nomination and possibly some best actor nominations.

In 1977, talk show host David Frost did a no-holds-bared, three-part interview of Richard Nixon. The movie is the back-story about how the interview came about. As portrayed in the movie, the interviews became a contest between Frost and Nixon. Frost needed to get Nixon to make some new admissions in order to sell the interviews. Nixon on the other hand was trying to salvage his reputation. There was no way that both could succeed.

In addition, Frost's two researchers wanted the interviews to be a substitute for the trial that Nixon never had.

 I was expecting the movie to concentrate on the interviews. Instead director Ron Howard only has bits and pieces of them - just enough to give a taste for how Nixon was handling Frost.

Frank Langella gives the performance of his life. Previously his most memorable role was as Dracula, 30 years ago. In Frost/Nixon, he avoids an outright impersonation of Nixon, but uses just enough of Nixon's voice and mannerisms to be believable. He manages to make Nixon both interesting and convincing.

I'm not as familiar with Michael Sheen. Like Langella, he made his mark previously playing a vampire - Lucian in the Underworld series. I don't remember much about David Frost but Sheen's version is spot on with my memories.

The movie takes a few liberties with history. The movie shows Frost as being a light-weight personality who slowly realizes that he is in over his head. The real Frost was more highly regarded. On his short-lived talk show, he had the reputation for being too smart for the American audience.

A few lines were changed between the real interview and the movie. The movie has Nixon making an admission that did not happen in real life. In the real interviews Frost tried to get Nixon to admit that he had approved the original break in at the Watergate but he refused.

Regardless, it is a riveting movie and sheds much more light on Nixon than Oliver Stone ever did.

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