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Secret Honor
     

Secret Honor

4.0 1
Director: Robert Altman,

Cast: Philip Baker Hall

 
After resigning in disgrace, Richard Nixon (Philip Baker Hall) sits at a desk in his study late at night, dictating his memoirs. Taking one drink, then another, he rants about Eisenhower, Castro, Khruschchev, Kissinger, the Kennedys, and any number of other people, some real, some imagined, finally cohering into a remarkable explanation of why his fall from grace was

Overview

After resigning in disgrace, Richard Nixon (Philip Baker Hall) sits at a desk in his study late at night, dictating his memoirs. Taking one drink, then another, he rants about Eisenhower, Castro, Khruschchev, Kissinger, the Kennedys, and any number of other people, some real, some imagined, finally cohering into a remarkable explanation of why his fall from grace was actually a supreme and selfless act of patriotism. Robert Altman's film adaptation of Hall's one-man show (written by Donald Freed and Arnold Stone) makes this performance feel more cinematic than one might expect, as the visual rhythms subtly match the ebbs and flows of Hall's performance. While Hall doesn't look or sound much like Nixon, the sheer, paranoid force of his characterization is thoroughly convincing: love Nixon or hate him, Secret Honor will give you plenty of support either way.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Tellingly subtitled A Political Myth, Robert Altman's film version of Philip Baker Hall's one-man show Secret Honor (1984) intriguingly imagines a disgraced Richard Nixon as he spends an evening raging against his dying political light. Smoothly framing Hall's actions through the two media that were the bane of Nixon's career (unflattering TV and even more unflattering tape recordings), Secret Honor mixes fact and fiction in a rambling yet compelling monologue suggesting Nixon was the victim of nefarious corporate greed as well as the paranoid, over-ambitious architect of his own downfall. Hall is no dead ringer for Tricky Dick, but he adroitly captures the distinctive hunch and infamous profanity. Alternately blustering, sobbing, and sputtering in frustration, Hall manages to evoke a whiff of sympathy for the man while pulling no punches about Nixon's crimes. Filmed at the University of Michigan for a class Altman was conducting, Secret Honor may have been one of Altman's cluster of 1980s theatrical adaptations, but its sharp interrogation of the Nixon mystique also makes it an apt companion to his 1970s dissections of American political and media mythology.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/19/2004
UPC:
0037429197929
Original Release:
1984
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:30:00
Sales rank:
36,110

Special Features

New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound; Audio commentaries with director Robert Altman and co-writer Donald Freed; New 22-minute video interview with actor Philip Baker Hall; 81 minutes of archival-film excerpts from the political career of President Richard M. Nixon; English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired; Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition; Plus: an essay by film critic Michael Wilmington

Cast & Crew

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Credits
2. Testing 1, 2, 3, Uh, 4
3. The Matter of the Pardon
4. The Kennedy Brothers
5. Goddamn TB
6. I See the Face of a Child
7. My Wife Does Not Wear a Mink Coat
8. Something Happened to My Client
9. The Committee of 100
10. The Blueprint of My Life
11. I Could've Beaten Kennedy
12. I Am the American Dream
13. I Used to Love Being President
14. Watch Out for the Liberals
15. The American Nightmare
16. Your Good Dog, Richard
17. What Are You Looking At, Kissinger?
18. The Hiss Case
19. The Reds, the Reds, the Reds
20. Only Nixon Could Dump Nixon
21. The China Plan
22. I Can Feel Mother's Eyes
23. The CREEP Conspiracy
24. He Chose Secret Honor
25. John Dean Did Me a Favor
26. I Sold My Soul at Bohemian Grove
27. Guilty of One Thing Only
28. Fuck 'Em! Fuck 'Em! Fuck 'Em!

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4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a forgotten Altman classic, made during his exile from Hollywood, and for my money the only one of his 1980s films worthy to stand alongside his early work like McCabe & Mrs Miller and Nashville. Adapted from a one-man show, but never feeling stagey, Secret Honor tries to get at the heart of Richard Nixon, a man who was such a mass of internal neuroses and emotional wounds, that he seemingly couldn't even be honest with himself. Philip Baker Hall gives a tremendous performance as a man who has become a walking haunted house, possessed by dark secrets he can never reveal. Although I enjoyed Oliver Stone's Nixon, this film gets deeper and is more illuminating in half the running time. An exceptional piece.