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With: Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen, Powers Boothe, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins, E. G. Marshall, David Paymer, David Hyde Pierce, Paul Sorvino, Mary Steenburgen, J. T. Walsh, James Woods, Kevin Dunn, Fyvush Finkel, Annabeth Gish, Tom Bower, Tony Goldwyn, Larry Hagman, Edward Herrmann, Madeline Kahn, Dan Hedaya, Tony Lo Bianco, Saul Rubinek
Written by: Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Oliver Stone
Directed by: Oliver Stone
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running Time: 192
Date: 12/20/1995

Nixon (1995)

4 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Oliver Stone had made huge political biographies before Nixon (1995), as well as after, but this one comes together not only as a grand epic along the lines of Shakespeare and Citizen Kane, but also one that incorporates any number of intertwining, writhing, frenetic filmic techniques; it never seems stale or cliched, like so many other biopics after they age and ripen. Stone had just come off of his blast of overcooked insanity Natural Born Killers, and he applies some of that rebellious invention to this otherwise sober undertaking, with lively editing, and many different kinds of film stocks butting up against one another. It traces Nixon's entire legacy, from his days as a not-so-great football player, to his ultimate disgrace. Anthony Hopkins gives nothing less than a great performance in the lead role, though, thankfully, other actors were used for the younger man. Joan Allen received an Oscar nomination to match Hopkins's as the long-suffering Pat, who wanted no part of public life, but did her best. The rest of the cast list goes on, refusing to run out of familiar names for a long while. Bob Hoskins is especially good as J. Edgar Hoover, and Dan Hedaya, who plays a semi-fictitious character, went on to play Nixon himself in the terrific comedy Dick (1999). The movie tends to exonerate Nixon to some degree, or at least it insists on seeing him as a fallible human being. But seeing the movie for the first time in 2019 — on Kino Lorber's fancy new 3-disc Blu-ray set — lends a new perspective, given that far greater horrors have since been committed in the White House.

The Blu-ray includes both the theatrical cut (reviewed here) and the 212-minute director's cut, plus commentary tracks for both, deleted scenes, a documentary, an interview with Charlie Rose and Stone, and more.

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