[OUR NIXON screens Sunday October 20th at 6:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]
Review by Bob Ignizio
The new documentary OUR
NIXON is a collection of choice
moments taken from the approximately 500 reels worth of 8mm home
movie footage shot by President Richard M. Nixon's chief of staff
H.R. Haldeman, his domestic affairs adviser John Ehrlichman, and his
special assistant Dwight Chapin. For 40 years this material was held
by the FBI, but now it has been made available to the public.
Director Penny Lane has taken this footage and married it to
interviews with the three amateur filmmakers who shot it, excepts
from Nixon's secretly recorded office tapes, and bits of commentary
provided by news reports of the time.
are a lot of good moments to be found in the film, but my personal
favorite had to be when Nixon introduces the Ray Coniff Singers as
his kind of “square” musicians, only to have one of their members
make a considerably less than supportive statement about the
President. Even though the member who made the statement, Carol
Feraci, certainly didn't speak for the group or its leader, it's
pretty stunning nonetheless.
is no traditional narrative structure here; OUR
is more like a tone poem with the various scenes tying together on an
emotional level. None of which is to imply that the film is just
randomly thrown together. The way the various bits of film are edited
and the choice of sound clips to go along with them puts everything
into all the context needed for the film to get its point of view
across. The end result is a portrait of Nixon that shows him in
lights both good and bad and, while certainly no love letter to
Tricky Dick, in a way it serves to humanize the man without letting
him off the hook. And no matter how you look at it, this is a great
wealth of historical material that anyone seriously interested in
20th century American history needs to see. 3 out of 4 stars.