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The Final Days (1989)

PG | | Drama | TV Movie 29 October 1989
Chronicle of Nixon's last months in the White House. A paranoid power-abuser, but also all too human--a confused, pathetic individual who cannot fully comprehend how, in less than one year, he can lose everything he has worked for in life.

Director:

Richard Pearce

Writers:

Bob Woodward (book), Carl Bernstein (book) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lane Smith ... Richard Nixon
Richard Kiley ... J. Fred Buzhardt
David Ogden Stiers ... General Alexander M. Haig Jr
Ed Flanders ... Leonard Garment
Theodore Bikel ... Henry Kissinger
Graham Beckel ... Ron Ziegler
James Sikking ... Elliot Richardson
Richard Venture Richard Venture ... James St. Clair
Alan Fudge ... Gerald Ford
Gregg Henry ... John Dean
Ramon Bieri ... Judge John J. Sirica
Ann Hearn ... Julie Nixon Eisenhower
Amanda Wyss ... Tricia Nixon Cox
Diana Bellamy ... Rose Mary Woods
Susan Brown ... Pat Nixon
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Storyline

Based on the acclaimed book written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, The Final Days chronicles president Richard Nixon's administration during his critical period after the Watergate break-in scandal, which ultimately led to Nixon's resignation from the office on August 1974. Written by Rodrigo Amaro

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

August 1974. The highest office in the land became the loneliest place on Earth.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for language | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Pat Nixon character speaks not even one word of dialogue. She gets a fair amount of screen time (as well as a few close-ups); but she never utters a single word. See more »

Quotes

Richard Nixon: Fred doesn't drink. I'm call him "the baptist".
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User Reviews

 
Haven't seen it since 1989, but remember it as being excellent
28 May 2010 | by mobile707See all my reviews

Thirteen years before it was filmed as a TV-movie, "The Final Days" was the title of a bestselling book, whose 1976 publication "just happened" to coincide with the cinematic release of "All the President's Men" (based on an earlier book by the same authors). The Final Days book was noted for its complete reliance on anonymous sources, and for its witheringly negative portrait of Nixon and his personality, even including humiliating details about the Nixons' marriage. Shortly after it was published, Pat Nixon determined to read the book (against her husband's advice), and suffered a stroke within a day or two after she started on it. She was in hospital for about a month. All in all, TFD was probably the most sadistic literary attack ever leveled on a living ex-President up to that time.

With all that background, it seems very unlikely to me that Nixon, personally, sat through the TV-movie version of "The Final Days" when it came out in 1989. My guess is that he had one or more staff aides watch it; possibly Tricia/Julie and/or their husbands, but that he himself couldn't bear the thought of it. But who knows for sure. Nixon's office put out a press release at the time, saying that sponsor AT&T should change its slogan to "Reach Out and Smear Someone", which (IMO) was rather clever.

The movie itself was highly praised by William F. Buckley, Jr., who specifically singled out the performance of Lane Smith as impeccable. Despite misgivings about the source-material, I watched it (I think it was broadcast on ABC, if I remember correctly) and was mesmerized. The whole show was simply brilliant from start to finish. Smith's performance as Nixon is, indeed, flawless, and the overall atmosphere of the last 15 months of the Nixon White House was nicely judged, in my view. "The Final Days" is absolutely one of the small handful of TV- movies with an abundance of dramatic power and credibility, and with the ability to withstand repeated viewings.

The Watergate Affair, of course, is simply too complex of a story to be dealt with adequately in this format, so people who do not already know the ins-and-outs of that scandal should know that this is not the place to learn about it, except in very basic outline. But if the movie paints Watergate with (necessarily) broad strokes, at least those strokes were true, in my recollection.

A couple of minor details that seemed off-key: The Washington Post newspaper was renamed as the "Washington Herald" or something like that. I'd like to know why that change was made. Also, I have no complaint with David Ogden Stiers as a performer. But there's just nothing about the man -- in appearance or personality -- that resembles Alexander Haig. A curious casting decision.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 October 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Final Days See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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