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Smith: Our guy Frye & the Nixon home movies

It's a huge deal to Brian Frye, Santa Rosa High Class of 1992, that the ingenious "Our Nixon" is about to hit the theaters.

Frye produced the film with his wife, director Penny Lane, after sitting through 26 hours of home movies — more than 450 rolls — of Richard Nixon, all shot by his top White House aides, H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapin.

The result is a collage of scenes of the late president captured on Super 8 and in interviews and news broadcasts. Frye and Lane included conversations drawn from about 4,000 hours of audio tape from the Oval Office taping system.

"We didn't have any idea what the story would be," Lane has said of the endeavor. "We were like, let's go watch the home movies and see what they want to be."

Variety observes in its review that Nixon's "rant about how 'All in the Family' was promoting homosexuality is a scream, yet it's part and parcel of his obsession with identifying his enemies."

Co-producer Frye grew up in Santa Rosa as the notably bright son of Vivian Frye and Dr. Stephen Frye, who acted as Sonoma County's mental health director from 1977 to '81.

At Santa Rosa High, Brian Frye sang for choral director Dan Earle and ran cross-country. College was a marathon for him, as he studied both film and law.

He became an attorney in New York, a very good one. He's now teaching law in Kentucky while also exercising his passion for film with his wife.

The Hollywood Reporter's review of their effort said cameramen Ehrlichman, Haldeman and Chapin "filmed each other and everyday life: Ehrlichman eating dinner off a tray on Air Force One, Chapin's wife and kids meeting the Easter Bunny on the White House lawn, Haldeman riding a bicycle at Camp David. Ehrlichman was especially fond of filming hummingbirds.

"They filmed to have something to show their grandchildren. They filmed because they thought that Nixon's presidency would change the world forever.


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