Relying too heavily on impersonations rather than character development, this made-for-TV docudrama deifies controversial US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger while condemning Richard Nixon.
North Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho (George Takei) decides to deal directly with Kissinger (Ron Silver), then National Security Advisor, in the upcoming peace talks, thus superseding the State Department. President Nixon (Beau Bridges), jealous of Kissinger's growing importance, asks Deputy
Security Advisor Alexander Haig (Matt Frewer) to leak any information on the peace talks. Nixon does not want to appear weak to the public while seeking reelection. Although President Thieu (Henry Chan) of South Vietnam has rejected past proposals for peace, Kissinger and Tho reach an agreement
that addresses all issues except one: the North insists on keeping troops in South Vietnam. On the eve of Tho's deadline Thieu rejects this plan as well. Despite a press conference in which Kissinger pressures Thieu to accept, the proposal falls apart after the 1972 election. Nixon resumes bombing
North Vietnam, choosing civilian targets. International outrage and the domestic political damage caused by the Watergate break-in compels Nixon to hold new talks. This time Kissinger succeeds in bringing all sides to an accord, ending US involvement in Vietnam.
While painting both title subjects in one-dimensional terms, KISSINGER AND NIXON is very flattering to Kissinger. Rather than attempting a mighty saga on the scale of Oliver Stone's NIXON (in theaters the same year this premiered on smaller screens) the teleplay views two complex men through the
limited prism of essentially only one incident. By starting after Kissinger has begun the peace process, the audience never sees the Kissinger who advised Nixon on earlier bombings; instead, Saint Henry sacrifices himself for peace. Nixon, meanwhile, is little more than a buffoon with lines like
"Where's my Jewboy?" and "I plan to leave office a hero."
Of the actors, Frewer stands out as Haig, honestly torn between Kissinger, his boss, and Nixon, his commander-in-chief. Silver gets lost in his accent while Bridges tries too hard to impersonate Nixon, unfortunately sounding more like Jimmy Stewart. The script also repeats itself ad nauseum about
diplomatic and political issues, as if the living-room audience would never understand anything stated only once. (Profanity.)
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- Released: 1996
- Rating: NR
- Review: Relying too heavily on impersonations rather than character development, this made-for-TV docudrama deifies controversial US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger while condemning Richard Nixon. North Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho (George Takei) decides to de… (more)