- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 30 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: October 5, 2004
- Originally Released: 1985
- Label: Criterion
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
- Additional Release Material:
- Featurette: Excerpts from archival films documenting key events in President Richard M. Nixon's political career
- Interviews: Philip Baker Hall
- Audio Commentary:
- Robert Altman - Director
- Donald Freed - Writer
- Additional Text: Essay by Michael Wilmington
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Memorable Quotes and Dialog:
"My mother always used to say that there is no path to peace. Peace is the path."
- Richard Nixon (Philip Baker Hall)
New York Times - 06/07/1985
"...A cinematic tour-de-force....[Hall's] contribution is a legitimate, bravura performance..."
New York Times - 12/29/1985
Included in the New York Times "10 BEST FILMS OF 1985"
USA Today - 11/27/1992
"...Amazingly cinematic....It also preserves Philip Baker Hall's unforgettable bile-spouting performance..."
Set in August 1974; Produced and released in 1985.
Robert Altman's adaptation of the one-man stage play about former president Richard M. Nixon features a high-powered performance by Philip Baker Hall (MAGNOLIA) as the unraveling president. The dramatic dialogue takes place in Nixon's personal office shortly after his resignation--brought about by the Watergate scandal--where the fallen leader, in a drunken frenzy of self-justification and resentment, comments acerbically on the various personalities and situations he encountered, and desperately bemoans his fate. His targets include presidents of the distant past, the Kennedy family, and leaders from other countries as well as anyone who ever doubted him in his quest to attain ultimate power. The only one who emerges unscathed is Nixon's mother, whom he continued to worship even after her death. Altman uses his versatility as a director to keep the film's single location from becoming claustrophobic or stagnant. By cutting between Nixon himself and a security monitor that is taping his drunken tirade, Altman blurs the line between reality and fiction even more strikingly, rendering a Nixon with a very human and yet "televised" face. Filmed while the director was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, SECRET HONOR remains an insightful and interpretative glimpse into the mind of one of America's most notorious presidents.
This funny, offbeat movie is a mythical portrayal of former President Richard Nixon's struggle to cope with the death of his political career after Watergate. The film is directed by visionary filmmaker Robert Altman who brought us MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER, NASHVILLE, THE PLAYER, and SHORT CUTS, among others. SECRET HONOR is based on the one-man stage play of the same name.
Essential Cinema |
- The one-man, one-act stage play SECRET HONOR opened in Los Angeles in 1983; later, Robert Altman backed the show's tour of the States. The production was turned into a film in 1984 during Altman's tenure as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, and co-produced by the University of Michigan Communications Department and the Los Angeles Actors Theatre. Some of the university's students also participated in the filming of the project.
- SECRET HONOR was first shown, unannounced, at the Seattle Film Festival in 1984. It then played for ten days at San Francisco's Cannery Theatre, immediately prior to the Democratic National Convention.
- Robert Altman said of the film, "We don't know what we've got here."
- SECRET HONOR is one of nine stage adaptations filmed by director Robert Altman in the 1980s, in addition to: COME BACK TO THE 5 & DIME JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN (1982), STREAMERS (1983), FOOL FOR LOVE (1985), and BEYOND THERAPY (1987). The other four adaptations are television films.
- The film is also known as SECRET HONOR: A POLITICAL MYTH; SECRET HONOR: LAST TESTAMENT OF RICHARD M. NIXON; and LORDS OF TREASON.