The Cinematic Watergate: From All the President’s Men to Frost/Nixon

  • Kingsley Marshall
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)


Richard Nixon is frequently represented in Hollywood movies as the embodiment of presidential villainy, the polar opposite of filmmakers’ conventional representations of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy as heroic leaders.1 He provides a convenient metaphor for the shortcomings, inauthenticity, and antidemocratic tendencies of America’s political establishment.2 Despite this, very few made-for- cinema films have explored his Watergate downfall in purportedly realistic fashion. This chapter examines how these movies contribute to remembrance and understanding of one of the key events in American history. In its assessment, they have reinforced the image of Watergate as a scandal pertaining to Nixon, with a subtheme of the media’s fundamental role in exposing presidential wrongdoing, rather than a systemic crisis of the imperial presidency.


Constitutional Democracy American Film Hollywood Movie Cinema Film Realistic Fashion 
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Copyright information

© Michael A. Genovese and Iwan W. Morgan 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kingsley Marshall

There are no affiliations available

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