movies and series to remember the scandal that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon


(CNN) — Watergate is having another made-for-television moment, in concert with the 50th anniversary of the scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of US President Richard Nixon. Combine that with a new round of televised hearings on a case of alleged White House corruption (by President Donald Trump), and everything old really does seem new again.

However, viewing some of the new and recent productions devoted to that story, and reviewing older ones, offers some insight into those years and a reminder that the Nixon scandals were far beyond sending some unlucky thieves to the Democratic National Committee headquarters.

For those who may see Watergate as ancient history, these projects, featuring those who participated in and covered the story in the past, also underscore that this earlier constitutional threat was much closer than it appears in the rearview mirror.

As for refresher courses, here are a few options, including some that qualify as adjacent to Watergate in terms of helping understand or remember what happened.

These are some television or film productions about Watergate

“Watergate: High Crimes in the White House” (CBS, June 17)

President Richard Nixon waves goodbye from the steps of his helicopter in front of the White House, following his resignation in 1974. (Credit: AP Photo/Chick Harrity)

Although reporters from The Washington Post Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are among those interviewed, there is a bit more bias in this documentary towards CBS’s role as one of the few television news outlets to cover the scandal, including Lesley Stahl’s recollections of the story, footage of Walter Cronkite weighing in on the scandal and majestic reporter Daniel Schorr discovering on air that he had earned a place on Nixon’s enemies list as he read the names.

Incorporating interviews old and new, the project also captures the huge “success” that was the televised Watergate hearings, back in the days when there were three networks and not many alternatives to follow.

“Watergate: Blueprint for a Scandal”

A four-part docuseries currently airing on CNN, the project features interviews with John Dean, among others.

“Watergate” (History, June 17)

The History Channel will repeat his six-part docuseries, which originally premiered in 2018.

“Gaslit” (Starz)

Sean Penn and Julia Roberts in Gaslit.

Is eight-part skit Watergate just finished, but it’s worth watching for those who haven’t, with Julia Roberts as whistleblower Martha Mitchell; an unrecognizable Sean Penn as her husband; Richard Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell, and Dan Stevens as John Dean. Though it’s overblown in part to the point of satire, this series is an eye-opening look at the scandal and its key players, including a wildly overblown Shea Whigham as G. Gordon Liddy.

“All the President’s Men” (HBO Max)

A remake of director Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 film version of Woodward and Bernstein’s book stands out for unintended reasons in certain locations, such as a Washington Post editors’ meeting consisting entirely of guys in white shirts , debating whether to support young reporters.

At its core, though, the film holds its own and then some, from its exploration of classic reporting to frightened sources who can’t keep quiet about the corruption they witnessed. Add to that the sensational performances and Oscar-winning screenplay by William Goldman, with signature lines like Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) telling Woodward (Robert Redford) to “follow the money” and “the truth is, these aren’t guys very smart, and things got out of hand.

“The Post”

Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in “The Post.”

The 2017 film by Steven Spielberg offers a deeper dive into another angle of the story, specifically the relationship between Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and editor Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), and the courage the latter displayed—having been pushed into that paper—by resisting pressure from the White House to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971. That tenacity would later prove vital to The Post’s role in exposing Watergate.

“Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House”

This regular 2017 movie stars a better-than-movie Liam Neeson as Felt, the FBI official who was eventually revealed to be the source of Woodward’s Deep Throat in 2005.

“Frost/Nixon”

Frank Langella as Richard Nixon in ‘Frost/Nixon’.

Michael Sheen and Frank Langella reprized their stage roles as David Frost and Nixon in the making of their famous 1977 television interviews, an entertaining film, defined by its standout performances, which is as much about the pressure on the interviewer as it is about his verbal parry as your theme.



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