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Our Nixon

Our Nixon

Director: Penny Lane, Richard Nixon, H.R. Halderman, John Ehrlichman

Cast: Penny Lane, Richard Nixon, H.R. Halderman, John Ehrlichman

Culled from more than 500 hours of personal Super 8 footage shot by Richard Nixon's three most trusted aides, Penny Lane's archival documentary Our Nixon presents an insider's look at one of the 20th century's most controversial administrations. The year was 1969. Thrilled at the honor of being


Culled from more than 500 hours of personal Super 8 footage shot by Richard Nixon's three most trusted aides, Penny Lane's archival documentary Our Nixon presents an insider's look at one of the 20th century's most controversial administrations. The year was 1969. Thrilled at the honor of being personally selected to work alongside the President of the United States, White House aides H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin stocked up on 8mm film, and began documenting their day-to-day life in Washington, D.C. Four years later, the trio had amassed hundreds of hours of historic footage -- film that would later be seized during the Watergate scandal, and hidden away for four decades. Now, for the very first time, that footage has been made public, allowing us to glimpse the inner workings of an administration that was bound for infamy as three of its key figures tell their personal stories in their own words.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
The coup that led to the remarkable, unusual documentary Our Nixon must have spelled nirvana for the gifted director Penny Lane. For her premiere feature-length work, Lane somehow managed to obtain access to a gold mine: thousands of hours of Super-8 material shot by Richard M. Nixon's infamous aides (and Watergate accomplices) John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman, and Dwight Chapin -- who spent several years obsessively capturing everything from White House Easter-egg hunts to Tricia Nixon's wedding on their personal cameras. The filmmaker then selectively edited the found footage together with key news clips and presidential addresses of the era, and laced atop all of it blistering passages from White House audio diaries and recorded phone conversations between Nixon and his acolytes. On an immediate level, the documentary lacks an overt message or theme; instead, Lane relies to an unusual degree on our deductive behavioral reading and lets us draw our own conclusions. That constitutes the motion picture's bravest coup: We can take any one of hundreds of observations away from the "inside" interactions that we observe and hear, some of which we may have been able to infer before, but rarely on such striking and potent levels. Some of the most pronounced that came across for this viewer: the fear, paranoia, and prejudice that consistently pervaded Nixon's voice and private conversations (even pre-Watergate); the president's insistence on rehearsing, to an eerie degree, speeches to the American public; and Ehrlichman & co.'s recollections of the late '60s, when they arrived in the White House vis-à-vis Nixon as the marionette holders of the GOP, as they seemed almost high on infinite possibility. This gives the movie some of its most haunting impressions. In later years, the Reagan administration drew harsh criticism from some corners for the vacuum that existed at the center of the Oval Office, but we realize from watching this film that Nixon was far more dangerous: He courted men who were almost oblivious to the sort of power and responsibility that they wielded, content to simply toy around with different options, impervious to the public consequences. On a broader level, the motion picture exudes a subtly encroaching emotional power that grows out of the nexus between its two perspectives. In the private images of the aides' 8mm footage, we step into the shoes of three of the most controversial figures of their era. We witness the vicissitudes of their lives outside of the public eye, see the banal details of D.C. life in the late '60s and early '70s, and experience their day-to-day routines in a manner that strikes one as unprecedented -- and that breaks through long-standing public vilification to touch on a level of empathy that might have seemed foolish at the time, but feels courageous and visionary now. Meanwhile, on another level and courtesy of the news footage, Lane compresses several years of pivotal, emotionally tumultuous Americana into an 84-minute time slot. This particular material gives heightened emotional contours to a now notorious period of our national history, and in a manner that feels fresh for a documentary. What grows out of the tension between the public and private spheres here is something revelatory: We begin to experience Vietnam-era history on dual levels as a kind of contemporary, cautionary myth. The overall dramatic arc is a gradual one -- from sunny (if illusory) optimism to the bleak despair accompanying the loss of apparent innocence and the full emergence of oligarchic corruption. Accordingly, Lane's visuals unceremoniously darken over the course of the movie, from bright and vernal to bleak and gray, with a heavier reliance on black-and-white in the concluding sequences. This is an ambitious and challenging sociohistorical chronicle that weaves a haunting ambience. It's all the more noteworthy given the fact that Lane is commenting with uncanny depth of insight on an era prior to her own.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Video Group
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
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Special Features

Closed Caption; "Travels with Nixon"; "Nixon and friends"; "Who's who" subtitle track

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Nixon Actor
H.R. Halderman Actor
John Ehrlichman Actor
Dwight Chapin Actor
Tricia Nixon Actor
Henry Kissinger Actor
Pat Nixon Actor
Walter Cronkite Actor

Technical Credits
Penny Lane Director,Producer
David Armillei Associate Producer
Francisco Bello Editor
William Beutler Associate Producer
Rebecca Ritchie Brower Executive Producer
Scott Bush Associate Producer
Dan Cogan Executive Producer
Brian L. Frye Producer
Hrishikesh Hirway Score Composer
Jenny Raskin Executive Producer
Elias Savada Associate Producer
Palmer Stilwell Taipale Associate Producer
Louis Venezia Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Our Nixon
1. Chapter 1 [5:13]
2. Chapter 2 [9:12]
3. Chapter 3 [8:43]
4. Chapter 4 [11:01]
5. Chapter 5 [7:42]
6. Chapter 6 [12:56]
7. Chapter 7 [6:02]
8. Chapter 8 [7:07]
9. Chapter 9 [5:30]
10. Chapter 10 [4:46]
11. Chapter 11 [4:04]
12. Chapter 12 [2:25]


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