Watergate on Film: When Andy Griffith Played a Trumpian Figure


As a Netflix limited series focusing on the Watergate scandal continues production with George Clooney apparently still working on it, I’ve decided to look back on several other films that focused on the Presidential incident in American politics. The historical drama joins an already crowded field, with All The President’s Men, Oliver Stone’s Nixon, Spielberg’s The Post and the new Liam Neeson movie Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The Whitehouse – and the lesser known, including the fictionalized version Washington: Behind Closed Doors (written by Nixon’s former Counsel and Domestic Affairs Advisor John Ehrlichman) and finally Robert Altman’s Secret Honor.

I find 1977’s Behind Closed Doors to be particularly interesting as the plot revolves around U.S. intelligence agencies purposely bringing down the President (what I like to refer to as Trump’s crie de coeur… no, I am not a fan, but I’m also a Brit, so why do you care?)

Washington Behind Closed Doors trailer

To some, Jason Robards’ performance in W:BCD as President ‘Richard Monckton’ has eerie similarities to the current POTUS in his rage, paranoia and voluminous enemies list, although he is noticably more intelligent.

Washington Behind Closed Doors: Richard Monckton first meeting with CIA director
At 4:45 in for a particularly prescient clip (The Democratic President Esker Scott Anderson (Andy Griffith) asking the CIA for info on the Republican candidate Monckton):

Andy Griffith gives Cliff Robertson 'The Treatment' ...

Watch this end of this clip – remind you of anyone?

Washington Behind Closed Doors: Richard Monckton magnanimous in victory

Clearly I’m not MAGA fan, but to each their own. It just struck me as similar. YMMV

Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'