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"Our Nixon": Home Movies of the Cuddliest, Most Secretest President 

Wednesday, Sep 11 2013

Our Nixon In spite of all the other, mostly negative changes to the U.S. copyright law in recent decades, works produced by the U.S. government still automatically go into the public domain — and thank goodness, because one of the results is Penny Lane's fascinating Our Nixon, a collage film culled from Super 8 home movies shot by Richard Nixon's aides Dwight Chapin, H.R. Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman. Our Nixon traces Tricky Dick's career from his 1969 inauguration to his 1974 resignation, supplementing the home movies with contemporary news reports, interviews from later years, and the famous Nixon tapes, including a spooky recording of the newly installed system being explained to Nixon. The original Super 8 films were silent, so of course the footage seldom syncs up with the soundtrack, but that doesn't make images such as Nixon's trip to China any less powerful. (Mao's China is surprisingly cool with Americans shooting home movies.) A segment that does align, Haldeman's Super 8 movie of television cameras broadcasting Nixon calling the astronauts on the moon, shows one of the most famous moments in history quite literally from a new angle. The one disappointing absence in Our Nixon, presumably because no footage exists, is Nixon's 1970 meeting with Elvis Presley. Of all the days for Haldeman to stay home!)

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Sherilyn Connelly


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