‘Our Nixon’ uses hundreds of reels shot by staff members

tags: NYT, documentaries, Richard M. Nixon, Nixon White House, John Ehrlichman, H.R. Haldeman



These days, Dwight Chapin shoots movies on his iPad. But in the Richard M. Nixon White House, he and his colleagues John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman were Super 8-wielding auteurs, capturing intimate moments that eluded the press corps: Tricia Nixon before her wedding; the president in Beijing enjoying a ballet about a workers’ insurrection; Pope Paul VI shot sideways (because Haldeman had smuggled his camera into the Vatican).

The images, surreptitious and otherwise, are included in “Our Nixon,” the impressionistic documentary directed by Penny Lane that has its premiere Thursday on CNN. The film makes use of hundreds of reels of  home movies shot by Haldeman, Ehrlichman and Mr. Chapin, some of which had been confiscated by the F.B.I. during the Watergate investigation. The footage remained largely unseen for 40 years.

“They weren’t being hidden,” Ms. Lane said. “They were being ignored.”

A Kickstarter campaign by Ms. Lane and her co-producer, Brian Frye, helped pay for transfers of the material, the rights to which were in the public domain, from the National Archive. They spent two years making their film, which was originally intended to be about the personalities revealed, rather than hard-core Nixon history....




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