In theaters, Oliver Stone's "Nix-on" ran 190 minutes, and so it will when it is released on video-cassette on July 9. But viewers who keep the VCR humming after the final credits will encounter a little "Nixon" that lasts about another 20 minutes.
The video doesn't constitute a "director's cut," the term for a new version of a film doctored to satisfy a filmmaker's second thoughts. Instead, in a maneuver increasingly being used for home video by other directors, Stone retrieved five scenes cut from the original movie and placed them at the end of the video."They were all cuttable without disturbing the flow," he said, "and they weren't necessary for character development," primarily Nixon's, as portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. Side by side, though, the vignettes hang together as a sort of mini-"Nixon."
In the first of these scenes, a limousine carrying the president and entourage is besieged by a furious mob of students protesting the Vietnam War. Inside the vehicle, Nixon, almost speaking too soon, says this is nothing compared to his trip to Venezuela as vice president in 1958 when his car was stoned and nearly turned over by protesters. One alarmed adviser points out that at least the students cannot vote.
Cut to CIA headquarters in Maclean, Va., where Nixon and his group stride into the building for a one-on-one confrontation between the president and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Richard Helms, played by Sam Water-ston.
In one humorous moment, Nixon brusquely rejects meeting in a conference room. It could be bugged, he says. They'll meet in Helms's private office, which is filled with orchids and art objects indicative, Nixon pointedly observes, of tastes supported by the taxpayer.
In the most interesting of the added scenes, Nixon and Helms try to gain leverage on each other. After sparring with Helms over whether the CIA should be involved in quelling domestic protests, the president gets to the point. He's after "some old and forgotten papers I signed as vice president."
A knowing Helms then ticks off the covert CIA operations those papers cover - Diem, Trujillo, Lumumba, Guatemala, Cuba - and notes that he himself was careful never to put anything on paper.
"A shame you didn't take similar precautions, Dick," he says.
In the next scene, Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover (Bob Hoskins) are viewing the students from a White House window, and Hoover suggests that to help stem leaks, the Oval Office should be bugged.
"I wanted to make the point that there were two people - Hoover and Helms - who were equal to Nixon," Stone said. "They ran the real Government Nixon was trying to get his hands on."
"Nixon" proper drew charges of factual distortion, and the added material is no less open to questions of veracity. Stone said the Helms scene, for example, was basically accurate in depicting the overall situation.
"Perhaps in the details it's off, because obviously Angleton was the orchids man and not Helms," he said, a reference to James Jesus Angleton, the CIA's former chief of counterintelligence. "I'm not into details like that."
THE FINAL DAYS - This home-video debut of a 1989 TV-movie about President Nixon's inglorious fall is superbly acted by veteran character man Lane Smith, with Theodore Bikel in an incisive interpretation of Henry Kissinger, and Richard Kiley in top form as special counsel Fred Buzhardt. Not rated.
- Michael H. Price
(Fort Worth Star Telegram)
THE MADDENING - What really is horrifying about "The Maddening" has nothing to do with its standard plot or uneven acting - it's the droopy, unflattering boxer shorts poor Brian Wimmer is forced to wear in an opening scene. Besides this minor fashion faux pas, "Maddening" is a decent enough, if uninspired, thriller. After their car breaks down, Mia Sara and her daughter are welcomed into the home of "Addams Family" couple Burt Reynolds and Angie Dickinson. Before you can say "Misery," Mia's chained to the bed and her daughter is subjected to Angie and Burt's bratty daughter. Highly watchable and perversely entertaining, "Maddening" features a nice turn from Dickinson, who plays her Baby Jane-like role with just the right touch of camp. But Burt doesn't register much of a pulse as a villain. Act natural, Burt. R.
- Randy Myers
PEANUTS COLLECTION - "It's the Girl in the Red Truck, Charlie Brown" is on tape for the first time. A rare "Peanuts" mix of live-action and animation, this 1988 TV special finds Snoopy's brother Spike hitting the desert road in search of saguaros and unemployed Russian spies. Also priced to sell at a discount are two previously released titles: "A Charlie Brown Celebration" and "It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown." Paramount, $9.95 each.
- Max McQueen
(Cox News Service)
ALPHAVILLE - "A Strange Adventure of Lemmy Caution" is the subtitle of Jean-Luc Godard's classic satire of Hollywood science fiction. It's about a secret agent investigating an intergalactic city controlled by a supercomputer that eliminates all enemies who don't conform to its "logical" ideas. American actor Eddie Constantine and frequent Godard collaborator Anna Karina head the cast, but the real star is Godard's incisive vision of a dehumanized society enslaved by its addictions to technology, conformity and materialism. Criterion Collection, not rated.
- David Sterritt
(Christian Science Monitor)
MARTHA AND ETHEL - Once upon a time in certain circles, nannies were a norm. They were even "passed" from generation to generation. Director Jyll Johnstone and co-producer Barbara Ettinger document the lives of their childhood nannies, both of whom had great influence on their respective families. Both caregivers had intriguing lives away from their "adopted" families. G., 1995, Columbia/TriStar.
- Max McQueen
(Cox News Service)