Nixon Was a Strange, Strange Man…

My obsession with Nixon started a few years ago and it just keeps on growing and growing… Hence, I got really excited when I learned that the spectacular Harry Shearer, man of a thousand voices (just in The Simpsons he does Mr. Burns, Waylon Smithers, Ned Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Dr. Hibbert and many more), has portrayed Nixon in what was first a one off episode from the series "Playhouse Presents" titled Nixon’s The One and which later turned into a mini-series of five episodes (I have yet too see these, but I’m itching to do so). I found out through the following clip, which I urge everyone to see! The impression is spot on. Not just the voice is perfectly imitated but the mannerisms are too.

This is actually a reenactment, word by word, of what happened in the minutes before Nixon delivered his resignation speech. The original video, including the speech, can be viewed here:

Someone (apparently secretly, or perhaps it just wasn’t meant to leak) started recording before the broadcast started and Nixon’s weirdness and awkwardness is on full display. This is hardly the only instance wherein Nixon’s bizarre social manners are evinced. David Frost, who conducted the famous Frost/Nixon interviews in 1977, spoke about the experience in this 2007 interview and there are some really… interesting… anecdotes about Nixon’s behavior in there:

The original interviews with the former president are also on YouTube:

I recommend you view the whole thing. The interview has also been made into a film entitled Frost/Nixon (I haven’t seen it yet, but I hear it’s quite good).

Now, there’s a lot of viewing for you, but if you want even more, I also recommend Oliver Stone’s Nixon. Though often overly dramatic and sentimental (especially the childhood scenes are cringeworthy), it is a quite good portrayal of the key events of the carrier of Nixon. The legendary Anthony Hopkins does an excellent job as usual (it’s fun watching all these different actors with their own personal takes on Nixon) and Kissinger is equally brilliantly portrayed by Paul Sorvino). I’m definitely no political or historical expert, but there’s a discussion about the accuracy of the film up on YouTube (the last YouTube-embed you’ll get in this post, I swear!) and from what I can gather from it (I haven’t seen it in a while, and I don’t have the time to watch the whole two hour thing again at the moment, so my memory might fail me a bit) it really is quite accurate. An added bonus in watching this is seeing an actually knowledgeable historian calling Stone out on his JFK assassination crankery. Watch it here:

Just one final movie tip for completeness (in relation to my own catalog of watched Nixon video materials) sake and to end on a lighter note. In Stone’s Nixon the actor Dan Hedaya played the, apparently fictional (the accuracy of Stone’s film takes a slight blow), character Trini Cardoza. In the 1999 movie Dick, Hedaya instead plays Nixon, which is slightly confusing if you watch this after seeing Stone’s film first. The film is an intentionally silly story about two teenage girls who by chance get into close contact with the president. There is definitely no attempt at historical accuracy here as we get a glimpse into an alternative universe in which we learn how even more bizarre the whole Watergate affair could have been, “Deep Throat” is not the “Deep Throat” of our universe for example (though at the time the film was made, Deep Throat’s identity had not been revealed yet, so I bet there were a few conspiracy theorists taking at least this part of the film’s plot seriously). In addition to Hedaya we also get the wonderful Dave Foley (as H. R. “Bob” Haldeman) and Bruce McCulloch (as Carl Bernstein) of Kids in the Hall fame (you don’t know Kids in the Hall? Get off my web site until you’ve located it on your own, you’ll get no link from me!) The icing on the cake is seeing Bernstein’s partner, Bob Woodward, played by Will Ferrell (the same goes for him as for Kids in the Hall).

Phew, that got a lot longer than I first intended. You have a lot of movies, YouTube-videos, and other links to check out now (if anyone is actually reading this after my long, long absence from the site, which in any case only drew an audience for the artwork and comics when it did have an audience). Get to it!

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