While I’m probably a bit late to this party, the Frost/Nixon movie finally came to my small town of Pres-cut. (That’s the way the natives say it around here. If you pronounce it Prescott, then people ask where you’re from.)
Walked away from the theater wondering how accurate the movie really is. There seems to be a lot of dramatic license at work in the movie. We’ve already discussed at great length the drunken phone call that never happened. Did the stuff with the shoes happen? I guess we can ask the one person around here that would know. The historical context, especially in the “guilt scene” seems to be switched around for dramatic effect. Clearly, this is David Frost’s story, not Richard Nixon’s. In fact, RN seems only portrayed as that big fish that is caught at the end of the movie.
One thing that I will write is that Langella is great as RN. He seems to have his mannerisms down—except for the climactic scene to which I believe he overplayed. I will be pulling for him to win the Oscar.
Without looking at other source material, like the book on the Nixon Frost interviews written at about the same time as the interviews; one doesn’t know where the license ends, and history begins. Was Oliver Stone the secret executive producer on this movie?
If this movie with all of its critical acclaim produces an increase of interest about Richard Nixon—then it is to our benefit as Nixon historians.
As history goes, I believe the actual Nixon Frost interviews are less important in understanding Richard Nixon. The movie only highlighted my opinion that these interviews were the beginning of the modern “gotcha” era. Much more meaningful to me, and other biographers, were the interviews conducted by our colleague Frank Gannon in the middle 80s. In those interviews, RN is much more relaxed, and seems more open for retrospection. Those series of interviews of RN shows us much more than the Nixon on the dock that David Frost tried to interrogate.