Film Capsule: Our Nixon

Poor poor Bob Haldeman, loyal as a boyscout right down to the flat-top. He squandered what little credibility still remained following the Watergate hearings by heralding the very man who forced him up the river. Of the three cabinet members whose political misfortunes are chronicled via Our Nixon (i.e., H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin), Haldeman seems to evoke both the most pity and the least compassion. Televised interviews throughout the 1980s reinforce the idea Haldeman was irresponsibly unrepentant, ashamed not so much of what he did as the fact that he got caught. And yet there’s something altogether endearing about the guy’s undying allegiance, particularly given the childlike way it is portrayed throughout this documentary.

Our Nixon is largely comprised of home movie footage, almost all of which was shot by Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Chapin throughout their years as advisers. While the footage makes for an interesting backdrop, there’s very little in the way of new information here. The film includes some of the greatest hits from Nixon’s previously released Oval Office recordings (most notably an exchange during which Nixon mistakenly describes All In The Family as a feature-length movie advocating homosexuality), and it also includes a well-documented incident during which one of the Ray Conniff Singers denounces the War in Vietnam amidst a White House Medal of Honor ceremony. Yep, this documentary includes all that and more, a lot of which is interesting, but very little of which is revelatory. Our Nixon is, quite literally, the equivalent of talking Tricky Dick over an extended reel of home videos. And – as anyone who’s ever been made to sit and watch one of these videos can attest – there’s only so much one can take before inquiring about where the time goes.

(Our Nixon opens at The IFC Center in New York City on Friday, August 30th.)