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The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Still of Sean Penn in The Assassination of Richard NixonStill of Sean Penn in The Assassination of Richard NixonNaomi Campbell at event of The Assassination of Richard NixonStill of Sean Penn in The Assassination of Richard NixonStill of Sean Penn and Naomi Watts in The Assassination of Richard NixonSean Penn and Niels Müller in The Assassination of Richard Nixon


Based on real life events, Assassination is set in 1974 and centers on a businessman who decides to take extreme measures to achieve his American dream.

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 7.1/10 (16,938 voted)

Critic's Score: 63/100

Niels Mueller

Stars: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Don Cheadle

In 1974 Samuel Joseph Byck attempted to hijack a plane he intended to fly into the White House to kill Richard Nixon – possibly the first time an airliner was to be used as a flying bomb in a terrorist attack. Sam Bicke is a lonely, ineffectual incompetent who feels wronged by his family, friends, employers and the world in general, though his problems are largely of his own making and his petulant refusal to compromise what he sees as his 'values'. Thus he loses his job rather than 'lie' to customers about prices, while at the same time he continuously deceives his friends, and steals from his friend and his brother. Elaborate plans for success founder on equally avoidable issues. As his world falls apart, he fantasizes Richard Nixon (then under the shadow of Watergate and soon to leave office) as his ultimate enemy, and Leonard Bernstein (to whom he dictates endless self-exculpatory audio letters) as his only friend and equal…

Writers: Niels Mueller, Kevin Kennedy


Sean Penn

Samuel J. Bicke

Naomi Watts

Marie Andersen Bicke

Don Cheadle

Bonny Simmons

Jack Thompson

Jack Jones

Brad William Henke

Martin Jones

(as Brad Henke)

Nick Searcy

Tom Ford

Michael Wincott

Julius Bicke

Mykelti Williamson

Harold Mann

April Grace

Mae Simmons

Lily Knight


Jared Dorrance

Sammy Jr.

Jenna Milton


Mariah Massa


Eileen Ryan

Marie's Mother

Derek Greene

Joey Simmons

The mad story of a true man.


Official Website:
Metrodome [uk] |
Metrodome [uk] teaser website |

Release Date: 22 October 2004

Filming Locations: Alameda, California, USA

Opening Weekend: $37,547
(2 January 2005)
(5 Screens)

Gross: $697,759
(27 February 2005)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


This was originally conceived as a fictitious story but, whilst doing research, the writers discovered something very similar had occurred, so decided to let that influence their script.


Factual errors:
Julius Bicke is shown wearing a wedding ring. He is a fervently Orthodox Jew, and such Orthodox males do not wear wedding rings as a matter of religious principle.


Samuel Bicke:
Slavery never really ended in this country. It just gave it another name… Em-plo-yee.

User Review


Rating: 10/10

I was lucky enough to find myself at a small screening of this picture
and having no expectations, was blown away by what I saw. I felt a knot
growing in my chest with every passing minute and it didn't let go
until the credits rolled, when I had to take a couple deep breaths and
heard the girl next to me doing the same.

What first struck me was the fragility Penn brings to his character.
He's a man I'm used to seeing as well, a man's man, and to see him
timid and frustrated, swallowing so much emotion in ever bigger
chunks…it was remarkable to watch, his performance a credit to
director Niels Mueller as well. Penn deserves another award, Noami
Watts and Don Cheadle are also excellent, and Michael Wincott, as
Penn's brother, makes his one scene memorable.

Niels and Kevin Kennedy have done a truly masterful job with the
script, bringing unique voices and characters to life such as I rarely
see on screen. Neils certainly doesn't look like a first timer behind
the camera. Much of his framing feels emotionally

claustrophobic, while a few hand-held sequences made me think I was an
unwilling, unwitting voyeur.

All in all this is a delicately crafted yet weighty and powerful film.
I believe it gets released soon in New York and LA, but as Penn's Sam
Bicke character might say "The system is unfair and everyone has a
right to see this movie" so email ThinkFilm and tell them you want it
in your city, too. Kudos to ThinkFIlm for getting behind this movie,
they have another festival favorite of mine, "Kontroll" coming out in
the spring.

I take my hat off to these filmmakers for their outstanding work.