In 1977, I saw all four of TV journalist David Frost’s famous 90-minute interviews with former president Richard Nixon.
I don’t remember much about them. By contrast and ironically, because director Ron Howard and playwright turned screenwriter Frank Morgan package Frost/Nixon with the best quotes from 28 hours of interviews, I will never forget them.
And some of comments like Frank Langella’s Nixon saying when the president breaks the law it isn’t really breaking the law and when Nixon asks if Frost spent the night “fornicating” are gems.
When Michael Sheen’s (The Queen) Frost struggles to finance his project and when he and characters played Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt plot interview strategy, Frost/Nixon contains all the excitement of a rerun of one of Senator Sam Ervin’s Watergate hearings.
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Two things about Frost/Nixon stand out. Both involve Langella. He is electrifying as the enigmatic Nixon. The film’s pivotal and most interesting scene is a revealing drunken late-night phone call from Nixon to Frost that never happened. It does — however — cement Langella’s credibility as the character.
And two, because of that scene, Langella is able to make one of the most despised politicians in U.S. history sympathetic — even likable.
Now that’s brilliant.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated R for mature themes, language. It opens Friday, Jan. 23 at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.