Monday, 14 July 2014

Woody Allen - Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story (1971)

An unaired PBS special written and directed by Woody Allen. This mock documentary takes a satirical look at the career of Richard M. Nixon by profiling the president's fictitious political advisor, "Harvey Wallinger," played by Allen. Presented under the guise of a news documentary profile, the program features a stentorian narrator, interviews with Wallinger and his associates, and cleverly edited footage of President Nixon, creating an image of him as clumsy, fatuous, and dull. Also appearing in unflattering moments are Vice President Spiro Agnew; Attorney General John Mitchell and his wife, Martha; former Gov. George Wallace; and former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. Wallinger's early political career is examined with a letter-perfect reenactment of the McCarthy hearings, in which committee member Wallinger badgers a hapless witness about his involvement with the Boy Scouts of America. Additionally, Wallinger's past lovers describe his sexual inadequacies, and interviews with the man himself reveal him to be a smug, witless opportunist perfectly suited to his job.

I first saw this on Mark Evanier's blog,, and since then he's posted a response from one of his correspondents, Bill Freiberger (the TV producer and writer?) that adds some interesting information:

"In the list of actors who appear in Men of Crisis, you left one out, Richard M. Dixon. Dick Dixon was a Nixon impersonator who appeared in all sorts of things during the Nixon presidency. He was in posters, ads, movies, and TV shows such as this one. Although most of the news footage is actually Nixon, in the scenes where Woody Allen interacts with the President, it's Dixon. Dick had a nice run appearing as the President up until Watergate basically ended his career. At that point, he opened one of the first comedy clubs in the country, Richard M. Dixon's White House Inn, on Long Island. Many comedians got their start at his club including Eddie Murphy, Rosie O'Donnell, and Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling. I also started my comedy career there but to a much lesser degree. I thought your readers might want to know a bit more about this unique character actor who only played one character."

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