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4.2 10
Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon


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Hollywood heavyweight Ron Howard adapts playwright Peter Morgan's West End hit for the silver screen with this feature focusing on the 1977 television interviews between journalist David Frost (Michael Sheen) and former president Richard Nixon (


Hollywood heavyweight Ron Howard adapts playwright Peter Morgan's West End hit for the silver screen with this feature focusing on the 1977 television interviews between journalist David Frost (Michael Sheen) and former president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). At the time Nixon sat down with Frost to discuss the sordid details that ultimately derailed his presidency, it had been three years since the former commander in chief had been forced out of office. The Watergate scandal was still fresh in everyone's minds, and Nixon had remained notoriously tight-lipped until he agreed to sit down with Frost. Nixon was certain that he could hold his own opposite the up-and-coming British broadcaster, and even Frost's own people weren't quite sure their boss was ready for such a high-profile interview. When the interview ultimately got under way and each man eschewed the typical posturing in favor of the simple truth, fans and critics on both sides were stunned by what they witnessed. Instead of Nixon stonewalling the interviewer as expected, or Frost lobbing softballs as the truth-seekers feared, what emerged was an unguardedly honest exchange between a man who had lost everything and another with everything to gain. In this film, viewers are treated to not only a recreation of that landmark interview, but a behind-the-scenes look at the power struggles that led up to it as well. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Brian Grazer team to produce a film adapted for the screen by original play author Morgan (The Queen and The Last King of Scotland).

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Critic David Thomson once pointed out that by the time Ron Howard was 30, he had already spent more time on television than anyone else his age. Those years working inside a TV show's tightly structured shooting schedule instilled in him an extremely efficient approach to directing, like the filmmakers during the heyday of the studio system. His movies are usually solid, middlebrow crowd pleasers that make up for their occasional lack of substance with first-class professionalism. Frost/Nixon turns out to be something much more, in part because it's one of the best scripts he's ever been handed. The movie, adapted by Peter Morgan from his award-wining play, analyzes how Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) sought image rehabilitation after Watergate by sitting down for a lengthy interview with British television personality David Frost (Michael Sheen). The screenplay nimbly establishes Frost as both a likable fellow with a natural gift for broadcasting and an incredibly shallow man whose interest in his interview subjects never extends beyond how good they are for his program. In a bid for both big ratings and industry respect, Frost offers to interview the disgraced former president Nixon, who accepts both because of the large payday and because he savors the opportunity to change the public's low opinion of him -- something he thinks will be easy to do because he considers Frost a lightweight. In any movie or play, portraying Nixon is difficult because so much footage of Tricky Dick is burned into the public consciousness. An actor could probably get by on pure mimicry -- Nixon's mannerisms and voice were remarkably unique -- but a mere impersonation will gloss over the depth of the character's inner turmoil. In Frank Langella's expert performance, he presents both Nixon's deeply embedded paranoia and his formidable intelligence as the reasons for his political rise, as well as his epic decline. Langella augments this Shakespearean level of tragedy with the character's almost total lack of natural social grace -- he doesn't feel any actual connection with other people. His social awkwardness pours out during a late-night phone call to Frost during which the former president fires off an alcohol-fueled rant about the grudges he's held on to since his school days -- grudges that fuel his anger and paranoia. Regardless of whether this call really happened, the scene allows Langella to do the kind of emotional high-wire act that brings this sensibly directed movie to life. It's the kind of focused performance that feels lived in, probably in large part because he played the role on Broadway. His performance also owes a debt to co-star Michael Sheen, who embodies Frost's shallowness with such ease that the character's slow acceptance of responsibility feels entirely genuine; he makes Frost a worthy opponent for Nixon. The two leads might have the showiest parts, but the rest of the cast offers flawless support. Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell are great as Bob Zelnick and James Reston, the two journalists hired by Frost to help him prepare for the interviews. Platt is dependably brilliant, giving every single one of his lines a welcome comic spin, and Rockwell imbues the crusading Reston -- whose goal is to get a confession out of Nixon -- with a nervous energy that keeps viewers on edge. In addition to the performances and the screenplay, the timing of the movie makes it something special. Produced and released during the waning months of George W. Bush's second term, the film version of Frost/Nixon will be enjoyed by some as a wish-fulfillment fantasy. For those who would like to see Bush submit to an interrogation like this, the climax -- when Nixon does reveal his darkest impulses for Frost's cameras -- will trigger a much stronger dramatic catharsis than it might have otherwise. The timing gives Frost/Nixon a level of relevance that won't last past awards season; however, the craftsmanship, acting, and history lesson all make it among the most satisfying films of Ron Howard's career.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
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Special Features

Hi-Def Features ; ; Take an in-depth look at all aspects of the production and discover the lengths it took to recreate this historic event for the big screen; ; The Real Interview - Footage from the actual interview and how it compares to the way it was reenacted for the film; ; The Nixon Library - Discover the materials that have been preserved for public viewing in the Richard Nixon Library, ranging from the "Nixon Tapes" to footage of Nixon visiting China; ; Additional Features ; Deleted Scenes; Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Frank Langella Richard Nixon
Michael Sheen David Frost
Kevin Bacon Jack Brennan
Rebecca Hall Caroline Cushing
Toby Jones Swifty Lazar
Matthew MacFadyen John Birt
Oliver Platt Bob Zelnick
Sam Rockwell James Reston, Jr.
Patty McCormack Pat Nixon
Andy Milder Frank Gannon
Kate Jennings Grant Diane Sawyer
Eve Curtis Sue Mengers
Jenn Gotzon Tricia Nixon

Technical Credits
Ron Howard Director,Producer
David Bernardi Executive Producer
Tim Bevan Producer
Lorrie Campbell Set Decoration/Design
Liza Chasin Executive Producer
William M. Connor Associate Producer,Asst. Director
Michael Corenblith Production Designer
Eric Fellner Producer
Brian Grazer Producer
Todd Hallowell Executive Producer
Dan Hanley Editor
Debra Hayward Executive Producer
Mike Hill Editor
Michael Hill Editor
Janet Hirshenson Casting
Jane Jenkins Casting
Kathleen McGill Associate Producer
Peter Morgan Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Daniel Orlandi Costumes/Costume Designer
Matthew Byan Shaw Executive Producer
Karen Kehela Sherwood Executive Producer
Salvatore Totino Cinematographer
Louisa Velis Associate Producer
Hans Zimmer Score Composer


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Frost/Nixon 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
FROST/NIXON is one of the most successful screen adaptations of a play yet made. Perhaps that is due in part to the fact that the popular stage play by Peter Morgan was revised for the screen by the playwright, but it is also to the credit of director Ron Howard who managed to suffuse the 'play as movie' with such atmosphere and feeling of spontaneity that the rather long movie seems to whisk by more rapidly than history! Everyone knows of the infamous David Frost interview with Richard Nixon after Nixon had resigned office and was living in semi-seclusion in San Clemente, California, a bitter man struggling with the demons not only form the recent past but also form his childhood. Frost took on the challenge to bring the perpetrator of the Watergate scandal to his knees to satisfy the American public's need for retribution, and in conducting these interviews he did indeed achieve that. The story is as much a character study of Frost as it is of Nixon and the parallels writer Morgan uncovers makes the film far more than a quasi-documentary. This is real drama played for all it's worth. Frank Langella is unforgettable in his portrayal of Nixon as is Michael Sheen as Frost, each actor having played the roles on Broadway and transferring that depth of understanding to the screen. The surprise in this film is the use of the peripheral cast of characters - Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, Matthew Macfadyen, and Toby Jones - a group of actors who light the darker corners of the story with aplomb. FROST/NIXON should be required viewing for every Political Science major in our schools - and hopefully will urge the nation to find a similar manner to bring closure to the strangely coincidental machinations of the recent Bush administration crimes. Grady Harp
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