home movies

 

I recently met husband-and-wife filmmakers Penny Lane and Brian Frye at a law and humanities workshop, who told me of their upcoming release Our Nixon. The film includes hours of digitized Super 8 home movies created by Nixon aides H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Dwight Chapin. The originals were confiscated by the FBI during the Watergate investigation and buried at the National Archives. Check out the trailer, or better yet, contribute to a good cause by pre-ordering a DVD or purchasing a custom made, limited-edition H.R. “Bobblehead” Haldeman figurine from Kickstarter, a fundraising platform for creative projects.

According to Penny and Brian, Nixon’s aides filmed big events: hordes of anti-war protestors on the National Mall; legions of adoring fans on the campaign trail; White House performances by Bob Hope, Dionne Warwick, Johnny Cash and Raquel Welch; visits from heads of state like Haile Selassie, Nicolas Ceausescu and Indira Gandi; their historic trip to China; and Tricia Nixon’s Rose Garden wedding. They also filmed each other: Erlichman clowning with Kissinger on the beach, and Haldeman filming his assistant filming Haldeman at the Great Wall of China. It’s a film about the story Nixon’s aides thought they were a part of—the transformation of America—before Watergate proved them right.

 

Ollie Atkins, Richard M. Nixon Campaign, 1968

 National Archives and Records Administration