All The President’s Men (1976) Director: Alan Pakula
All The President’s Men is a classic film about the Washington Post investigation into the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon presidency. The film was conceived when Robert Redford bought the rights to Woodward and Bernstein’s book of the same name in 1974 for $450,000 with the intent of making the story into a movie. The title of the movie and the book mirrors Robert Penn Warren’s 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, All The King’s Men, a book about a corrupt Governor, based on Huey Long. The whole project was his brainchild and production. There was some inner turmoil in the creation of the screenplay in an effort to get it “factually” correct.
It stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as reporters, Woodward and Bernstein. The actors spent hours studying the newsroom of The Washington Post, and the set was entirely recreated in Hollywood, right down to stolen trash from the real Washington Post newsroom. The film gives an excellent glimpse into the dizzyingly chaotic life of an American political journalist in Washington D.C. Of particular note are the noir-esque scenes with Woodward’s confidential FBI informant “Deep Throat,” crassly named by the Post’s editor for a popular porno at the time. The acting and casting is excellent, and filming was uniquely focused with long scenes and little cuts so the actors could perform as their characters for great expanses of time. The image of the type-writer appears throughout the film as the reporters frantically write their stories for the Post in a crowded office filled with the sound of clicking keys. The film closes with images of Richard Nixon addressing his flailing Presidency as a typewriter writes the headlines that emerged at the Post over the
The film grossed more than $70 million at the box office and was nominated for a slough of Academy Awards, winning several lesser Academy Awards. Sundance Productions, which is owned by Robert Redford, later made a documentary about the film in 2013.
All The President’s Men is an excellent film and is a triumph for Robert Redford. Viewers get the sense of the frantic nature of being a political reporter on the beat in Washington D.C. If I could change one thing about the film it would be to bring about a more dramatic conclusion. All throughout the film, the reporters are building a story about linking the Watergate scandal to the White House and other government bureaucracies. Instead of a big crescendo where we see Tricky Dick caught red-handed, the film concludes in a moderate way, summarizing what happened through headlines released in the Post, as typed out on a typewriter. However, that is not the way it happened in reality and the film is a notable dose of realism. It is a top notch film worth a second, third, and fourth viewing.