Secret Honor (1984): Altman’s Scathing Film Monologue, Starring Philip Baker Hall as President Nixon

Robert Altman directed Secret Honor, monologue film written by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone (based on their play), starring Philip Baker Hall as former president Richard M. Nixon.

A disgraced Nixon is restlessly pacing in the study at his New Jersey home, in the late 1970s. Armed with a loaded revolver, a bottle of Scotch whisky and a running tape recorder, while surrounded by closed circuit television cameras, he spends the next 90 minutes recalling, with rage, suspicion, sadness and disappointment, his controversial life and career in a long monologue.

Under the brilliant direction of Altman, Baker Hall did not impersonate or spoofed Nixon, but offered an intensely passionate (and compassionate) look at the president’s psyche in a mode that was both scathing and funny, resulting in mixed feelings of viewers, ranging from sympathy to contempt to pity.

The 90-minute film was shot at the University of Michigan.