All the President’s Men
Release Year: 1976
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Writer: William Goldman
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook, Jason Robards, Jane Alexander
Rating: Won 4 Oscars: Best Supporting Actor (Jason Robards), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Sound. Nominated for 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Jane Alexander), Best Editing. Nominated for 4 Golden Globes: Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Jason Robards).
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #83, week 2 2016
The story of how the two Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) uncovered the Watergate scandal that lead to President Nixon’s resignation.
Few events has shaped American public opinion of government as much as the Watergate conspiracy and so All the President’s Men released a year after president Richard Nixon’s resignation was a very important film at the time of its release. It was most likely for that reason Bristish director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, 1969) declined to direct the film as he felt the story should be told by an American director. The director’s seat was instead filled by New York born producer-turned-director Alan J. Pakula (Sophie’s Choice, 1982) who obviously treated the subject with great care and a flair for introducing drama to a story to which everyone knew the outcome. Redford (The Sting, 1973) was involved from early on and it is on his insistence that Hoffman (The Graduate, 1967) was offered the part of Bernstein as Redford wanted a name as big as himself so the attention wouldn’t be unfairly balanced towards his character. How we are greatful for that choice! There is no denying the thespian prowess of the two of them and their portrayals of the young investigative journalists Woodward and Bernstein are both believable, and emanates with the excitement and joy of a couple of bloodhounds tracking something big. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the two young actors seem to have had fun filming and although the supporting cast around them give good performances none manage to steal scenes from the two leads. All the President’s Men is a fast moving film despite the fact that it mostly consists of conversations and scenes of news articles being written up. However, the film ends on a bit of an odd note at it is well to keep in mind before watching that this it only show the very early stages of the investigation, and the President is hardly mentioned, his involvement is only implied. All in all it gives the film a much more realistic hue and gains much credit by its unsentimental and factual treatment of one of the biggest political scandals in American history. An important film and essential viewing if you enjoy films about journalism. Highly recommended.
Both Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford learned each other’s lines as well as their own so they could interrupt each other in character. This unsettled the actors they were playing opposite, making their uneasiness the more realistic.
Hal Holbrook was the first and only choice for playing the informant known as Deep Throat. At that time the identity of Deep Throat was only known by Bob Woodward who insisted that Holbrook should play the part. Holbrook does in fact bears a strong resemblance to W. Mark Felt, who later admitted to being Deep Throat.
When Kenneth Dahlberg tells Bob Woodward on the phone, ”I’ve just been through a terrible ordeal! My neighbor’s wife has been kidnapped!”, he is not lying. Dahlberg’s neightbour’s wife was in fact kidnapped on 27th July 1972, but was released two days later after her husband paid a ransom of $1 million.
Picture Copyright: Warner Bros.