In 2004 Mark Feeney published a very well-reviewed, scholarly book about President Richard M. Nixon's relationship to the movies called NIXON AT THE MOVIES. Nixon's multiple screenings of PATTON during crisis points of the Vietnam War have been documented, and Peter Bogdanovich has written of the President's response to THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, but this book, lost in the dusty stacks of history to us for the last ten years, provides a chronological listing of every movie Nixon watched in the White House.
The excerpt is published here, under the brilliant title What Nixon Saw and When He Saw It.
For the benefit of those too young or uninterested to know or care, Richard Nixon was our President from 1969 through 1974. His fatal flaws of character caused him to be the first American President hounded from office. The scandal created something like a brief shining moment for Congress and the Press. Nixon was a fascinating man, driven by insecurities and class-based jealousy, particularly as concerned the eastern elite, embodied by the richer, better-looking, better-liked JFK, who beat him in the Presidential election of 1960 and whose ghost haunted him thereafter.
So, Nixon's film watching history is not just the record of a chief executive's movie tastes, it is in a way, a visible protrusion of the unconscious forces that may have been at work in Nixon's always inscrutable mind. Why, for instance, did he watch the big-budget piece of fluff AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS three times, including on his last movie night as President? During those dark Final Days when he contemplated suicide, did he respond in any special way to IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE?
As a joining-place between history and film, this is a singularly fascinating resource. Close friend of AFS Zack McGhee has compiled an easier to access Letterboxd list of the films - it's a work in progress, with a few occasional wrong matches, but it should be proofed and complete soon.