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David Frost's legendary interview with former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon remains the greatest political interview ever recorded, and has been immortalised in the Oscar-nominated film, Frost/Nixon. Watched by nearly 50 million viewers in the US when originally broadcast in May of 1977, this is the entire 80-minute interview focusing solely on Watergate - it would be the first and last time Nixon publicly confronted the issue. A compelling unveiling of one of the most infamous political scandals of our time, with Nixon on the verge of tears while trying to justify the burglaries and hush money that shook a nation. Nixon had agreed to appear with no preparation or screening of questions - to be delivered by a supposed journalistic lightweight - but is cajoled into confessing all to the American people.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Released in Australia on DVD almost 32 years to the day after it originally aired on 50 million American TV screens in 1977, the David Frost / Richard Nixon Watergate interview comes out to coincide with the DVD release of the very same interview as a dramatised film, with actors playing the parts. Both are compelling, in their own ways.

Here is one of the most vibrant examples of the power of democracy, as it is in 'the land of the free'. The most powerful man in the land faces a journalist who is free to ask whatever he wants. And what he wants is nothing less than a humiliating public apology from the President to admit how he misled the people. It's not just a political bombshell but a moral watershed, with Watergate as the backdrop.

In 1977 I was myself a young journalist, although not in political reporting, and I had lived through the tumultuous Watergate drama - at a distance, in Sydney. I had only scant interest in US politics, even though I had in fact been held in the arms of this same Richard Nixon ... back in Vienna in 1956, when as a 10 year old Hungarian refugee, I was amongst the crowd seeing Nixon arrive. He lifted me up for a brief photo opportunity (I suppose); but we didn't bond. So in 1977, I was more interested in America's movies and its fabulous live shows. Still, Watergate rocked the Presidency and that was huge news.

And David Frost had made a name as a slick TV interviewer; but he was in fact a bit better than his detractors at the time supposed. As we see here, he appears to have enough self confidence and sincerity to disarm one of the most cunning men in world politics at the time. But not easily.

This DVD is less of an entertainment than the film, but that's to be expected. But the upside is that we're watching the real Frost and the real Nixon, in medium and in extreme close up, able to read their faces and their eyes even more intimately than if we had been in the room with them. That - and the context provided by Frost's introduction and extra interview - makes this a fascinating DVD.

April 30, 2009

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(UK/US, 1977)

CAST: Documentary; David Frost interviews Richard Nixon

PRODUCER: John Birt, Sir David Frost

DIRECTOR: Jorn Winther

EDITOR: Don Stern

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes


SPECIAL FEATURES: Interview with Sir David Frost


DVD RELEASE: April 1, 2009

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