DVD : Frost Nixon (Ron Howard, 2009)

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I’ve been looking forwards to this one for some time. A fan of Michael Sheen (check out his turn as Kenneth Williams in Fantabulosa for the BBC in 2006), I also wanted to understand a bit more about Richard Nixon and Watergate. I needed to see Tricky Dicky sweat when facing the stalwart Brit interviewer. Of course, Frost was certainly not that; and Nixon had faced tougher questioning long before he took a record $600K from Frost to (unintentionally) confess all for a prime-time audience.

Frank Langella was interesting as Nixon but Michael Sheen deserved the plaudits attention and Oscar nomination. Looking at footage of the real Dicky in action around that time, he was a more sprightly, active figure with determined body language than the bowed-over, old git portrayed by Langella. (Frank’s finest hour for me remains his stint as Skeletor, in Gary Goddard’s 1987 “Masters of the Universe“). Not knowing the private Nixon, I wonder whether he was as pitifully lonely, arrogant and burning for conflict as the writer suggests (Peter Morgan, adapting his play for the big screen). I can well believe he was as grasping and venal as shown here. Frost comes across as nice-but-dim or more popularly, a playboy looking for the shortcut to a scoop. That is, until his miraculous conversion one evening where he discovers investigative journalism, graft, a little humility and gets on the stick.

I have tracked down the real interviews on YouTube and I note they are now in the shops on DVD (£5.99 in HMV !). I should perhaps have watched it before reflecting on the reality of Ron Howard‘s film but I preferred to pitch my ideas first. Those curious about the impact of Nixon on world history (surely significant by any measure) should check this out. It might even be a worthy view for schoolkids looking at modern political history – Watergate being a defining moment in US and world politics. As the film says, Nixon’s lasting legacy is the -gate appendage for any remotely scandalous political furore.

So, thanks Dick ! (and Ron and Peter). Surprised not to have seen any new -gates in the British press recently.

Expense-gate, anyone ?

How about Duck-gate ?

Greed-gate ?

Suggestions please !

Meanwhile, check out Frost Nixon. Entertaining, amusing, well played and worth a look.