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USA, 1971 (MIFF 1972)

Director: Emile de Antonio

Film-maker Emile de Antonio sets out, in what has been described as documentary "white-comedy", to confront one of the most treasured illusions of American society: blind faith in the democratic character of its fabled two-party system. The film directs its attack on the rhetoric that disguises the institutional failure of the electoral system to offer the people meaningful political choices or even information.

This attack takes the form of a devastating chronicle, compiled from newsreel and television footage and interviews with various political commentators, of the public career of Richard Milhous Nixon, whom de Antonio regards as the ideal example of a purely opportunist politician whose very lack of personal conviction is a prime asset in today's politics of media-manipulation.

Between carefully arranged flashbacks, the film traces Nixon's ascent to the Presidency, with sections on Nixon's unprincipled tactics against his first opponent. Congressman Gerry Voorhis; the later communist smear of Helen Douglas: the resultant publicity from his involvement in the infamous Alger Hiss case, the charges that led him to the "Checkers" speech in which he bared his financial soul to America, while congratulating himself on his honesty and diligence.

Beyond the film's immediate intent there is the added frighten suggestion that all politic same.

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