Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 3:07 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

‘Our Nixon’: The Watergate years on candid camera

A movie review of “Our Nixon,” director Penny Lane’s uniquely damning account of the Watergate years that uses reels of Super 8 home movies shot at the White House.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 3 stars

‘Our Nixon,’ a documentary directed by Penny Lane. 85 minutes. Not rated; contains some rough language. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

Working with more than 500 reels of Super 8 home movies shot at the White House during the Watergate debacle, director Penny Lane’s “Our Nixon” blends the mostly silent footage with damning audio evidence of a president who’s cracking up.

The result is maudlin beyond belief, especially Nixon’s farewell to the aides he’s in the process of firing, but other moments simply register as shockingly out of touch. In an extended episode, the president delivers a tirade against homosexuals, Archie Bunker, “All in the Family” and Socrates and that would be offensive if it weren’t so clueless.

Perhaps the most unexpected episode focuses not on Nixon but the supposedly conservative Ray Conniff Singers. One member of the group suddenly launches into a protest against the Vietnam War, urging the president to “stop bombing human beings, animals and vegetation.”

As with so many moments in the film, it’s the audio track that really delivers the goods. We get pictures of a White House wedding, a meeting with the pope and a trip to China, but the home movies are often little more than visual accompaniment to a soundtrack driven by rage and paranoia.

Parts of “Our Nixon” also suggest flat-out comedy. It’s sometimes as goofy as the fictional 1999 farce “Dick,” with Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst as teenage White House dog-walkers who unravel the mysteries of Watergate.

The title, “Our Nixon,” presumably is intended as an homage to the artsy early-1980s German marathon, “Our Hitler,” which took more than seven hours to assess disaster.

John Hartl: johnhartl@yahoo.com

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

The Seattle Times wins top award for multimedia storytelling

The Seattle Times wins top award for multimedia storytelling

Our Sea Change series received a prestigious 2015 DuPont-Columbia award for showcasing the power of storytelling on the Web. Experience the report here.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►