“Frost/Nixon” – Susan Granger reviews

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Based on the play of the same name, this suspenseful drama recreates the legendary 1977 television interviews between disgraced President Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) and tenacious British interviewer, David Frost (Michael Sheen). It’s a titanic battle-of-wills.

When Frost lost his prized interview program in America, he offered to pay the former president $600,000, plus a share of profits, for a “no-holds-barred” interview. It was a risky move. Sociable yet ambitious, Frost was known for his breezy bantering, not investigative reporting. The big networks wouldn’t make a deal without dictating the terms, and there were no guarantees that Nixon would admit to any wrongdoing. But peripatetic Frost had perseverance. By the end of 28 hours of questioning – only six of which were broadcast on independent local stations – self-sabotaging Nixon had tacitly acknowledged his role in the Watergate scandal, giving the public the catharsis they’d been craving.

Written by Peter Morgan (“The Queen”) and directed by Ron Howard (“Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind”), it’s an incredible cinematic feat since the plot revolves around two power-players talking. Morgan envisions it as “an intellectual ‘Rocky,’” expanding the gripping narrative by subtly delving into both men’s revelatory backstories. Amplifying the intensity, Howard makes shrewd use of revelatory close-ups, which are not possible on-stage. And seeing Nixon’s California home, La Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, shows the loneliness of his isolation.

Recreating their Broadway roles, Frank Langella and Michael Sheen are perfectly matched sparring partners in this prime Oscar-bait match. Kevin Bacon is convincing as Nixon’s wary strategist, while Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell are memorable as Frost’s associates.

It’s a shame that the R-rating – for vulgarities – discourages curious younger viewers because on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Frost/Nixon” is a ferociously exciting 10. A must-see!

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.