Frost-Nixon: Nice Work Oliver.
Well, we have come a long way on our tribute to Oliver Platt. First, we took a look at Lake Placid, one that belongs in the dung heap. Then, at Liberty Standstill, a more controversial movie from a reviewer’s perspective, as many people either loved it or hated it—I loved it, and here is Part III: Frost-Nixon.
Only once would Nixon talk about his presidency and Watergate in such an open forum as in his interviews with David Frost. Ron Howard (Opie Taylor from the Andy Griffith show) decided to make a movie about it, (adapted from the play), and he did a damn fine job of it too.
Oliver Platt plays Robert Zelnick, an out-of-work radio reporter with a law degree, who signed on as executive editor for the Frost/Nixon interviews. Zelnick, along with the rest of the country, had reservations: many thought that Nixon saw Frost as a hard-living, halfhearted interviewer through whom Nixon could rectify his image and legacy. The reporters, however, were determined to deliver to the country, as Zelnick told a journalist at the time, “the trial that Richard Nixon never had.”
The real Zelnick said in an interview that his role was “to converge on Beverly Hills and help David organize for the interviews. Before each one of them, I would marshal all the material we had, digest it, and try and anticipate the way Nixon would respond. After briefing David, I would sit in the chair and pretend to be Nixon, and he would ask me exactly the questions we had in mind for the next day.” This is exactly how Oliver Platt played it in the movie.
Platt gives a great performance and has some great scenes when he is playing his role as Nixon. One line that is particularly memorable: “That Jack Kennedy, he screwed anything that moved. He had a go at Checkers once, and that poor bitch was never the same after that.”
This was a great movie, so great that I am providing three clips each from three different sources. The first is from the real Frost-Nixon interviews. The second is from a Saturday Night Live spoof of the interviews, and third is from the movie itself. When I saw the Saturday Night Live skit, I was 7 or 8 years old and obviously had no idea what they were talking about, so I didn’t find it funny. Now I can really appreciate it.
In clip one, Frost is going after Nixon about his role in Watergate stating that his conduct amounted to an obstruction of justice.
Clip 2 is the SNL satire of the Frost-Nixon interviews. What I love about this parody is that Gilda Radner plays Julie Nixon and Jane Curtin plays Pat Nixon.
An finally, here is a clip from Frost-Nixon the movie.