Secret Honor

Synopsis: In this speculative one-man drama, we see former President Richard Milhous Nixon alone in his study, dictating his thoughts into a tape recorder. His only company are a four-screen closed-circuit TV setup, the portraits on the walls, a bottle of Chivas Regal - and a loaded pistol. At times addressing an imaginary judge in a court of public opinion, at other times speaking to an aide named Roberto, and sometimes just talking to himself, the former chief executive reflects, in a series of meandering monologues, on his humble Quaker upbringing, his school days, his family and a political career that reached all the way to the White House. Nixon rails at his treatment by the likes of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the "goddam Kennedys," J. Edgar Hoover, Henry Kissinger, Jews, liberals, the media, "East Coast shits," among others, as he leads up to the "true" reasons for the Watergate scandal that resulted in his resignation - an act he regards as one of "secret honor."
Director(s): Robert Altman
Production: Cinecom International Films
  1 win.
Rotten Tomatoes:
90 min

[Clock Chiming]

[Door Lock Unlocking]

Um, testing.

Uh, one, two, three, four.

[Motor Winding, Click]

Uh, testing.

Uh, one, two, three.

Uh, uh, uh, four.

Classical, Harpsichord]


Uh, testing.

Uh, one, two, three, four.

Uh, Roberto,

I told you before...

that this thing doesn't, uh -

because there's no -

because the, uh, uh -

You know.

Classical, Harpsichord]


Uh, testing.

Uh, one, two, three, four.

Uh, Roberto, this is for, uh...

eyes only.

Um, our eyes.

Uh -

Classical, Harpsichord]


[On Tape]

Uh, testing. Uh, one, two, three, four.

Uh, Roberto, this is for, uh...

eyes only.

Um, our eyes.


Classical, Harpsichord]



Okay, Roberto...

would you, uh -

would you send, uh -

Call Mr. Stein at my publishers...

to pick up that, uh, package

that I gave you.

Oh! Oh, yes.

Would you also tell Mrs. Nixon

that I, um -

Never mind.

Oh! Oh, yes.

I, uh, l-I hear that the gardener's wife -

that Fernando's wife is in the hospital.

Would you send her a, uh, u-uh -

Send her a new portable radio, please.

Uh, make it a good one.

And, oh, uh, don't-uh, don't -

don't tell her that it's from, uh -

I would - I would rather that she didn't, uh -

Just make it, uh, anonymous. I -

No! No, no, no, no, no, no.

Say that, um -

Uh, say that it is from

Friends of a Free Cuba.


Cuba libre.

Okay, uh, side one.

Um, day and date,

um, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

I'll, um - I'll write the, um, um, uh -

the prayer f-

Uh, the, um, uh-the plea f-

the prologue -

You know. Um -

Okay, uh -

[Clears Throat]

Your Honor...

may we take the matter

of the, uh, pardon first?

Uh - [Scoffs]

It was a complete fake.

It solved nothing

because, uh, well...

if there had been a trial

and all the rest of it -

Well, you know, if I had gone to prison,

I would be a free man today.

A free man!

Now, the word "pardon"

has two definitions.

First, there is the legal aspect,

which is to...

excuse a convicted man

from punishment.

Then there is the general definition

of the word "pardon"...

which is to forgive.




Forgive them

before they ever forgive me.

Bastards. F*** 'em!

Son of a b*tches.


Your Honor...

my client has been driven

almost mad...

because he has had to carry

the most terrible secrets of all...

Iocked up inside his, uh, uh,

breaking heart...

and, uh, uh, beating mind.

Now, you have read in the press...

the reasons for the Watergate affair.

Today my client is going

to reveal to you...

the reasons behind the reasons.

You, ladies and gentlemen

of the American jury...

shall look at the face

that is under the mask that is -

that is under the mask!


You alone shall judge his life.

Your Honor, my client has never

been convicted of anything...

therefore, technically,

he was not qualified for a pardon.

Now, as to the definition

of the word 'pardon"-

Look, there's been no forgiveness here.

The whole damn thing

has been a sham.

There's been no trial,

no legal conviction, no punishment.

Instead, Your Honor,

my client has had to suffer...

lifelong personal punishment

and, uh, torment...

for what has been called, the, uh -

[Scoffs] good of the nation.

Look, if the nation

knew the real truth...

why, I would be in the position of, uh,

of de Gaulle, for instance, because I -

Look, I had to withdraw becau -

De Gaulle and, uh-and, uh, Mao -



He was a kind of

a lone wolf too, you know.

As a matter of fact,

he said to me once, he said...

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Donald Freed

For the Canadian singer, see Don Freed.Donald Freed (born 1932) is an American playwright, novelist, screenwriter, and actor. He is associated with writing programs at the University of Southern California, and was Artist in Residence at the Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds, United Kingdom (Fall 2006 – Spring 2008), and Playwright in Residence at York Theatre Royal (Fall 2007 – Spring 2008), participating in a six-week Master Class in York in October and November 2007 ("Freed in Residence in York"). He has also been Playwright in Residence at Denison University, Ohio and taught at Loyola Marymount University. His latest play, Patient #1 (draft posted on Another America), "set in 2009 at an elite psychiatric clinic in South Florida, imagines a heavily sedated President George W. Bush, after he has left the Oval Office" (Johnson). It was published in 2007 and is being staged at York Theatre Royal in early 2008 ("Donald Freed", Another America). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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