All the President’s Men (1976)


The media does its job and holds politicians accountable.

The 1976 blockbuster “All the President’s Men” seems like a timely film to watch given the recent developments in the Biden Family.  Granted, it is not a cop movie, but it does layout a detailed investigation into criminal activity.  It portrays the investigative journalism that bought down a president. 


The movie depicts the work of Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward as they investigate the burglary at the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Office Building.  Their work led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon and the arrest of several of his aides and associates.  It is based on the book by the same name that was written by the two newspapermen themselves. 

Bernstein is played by Dustin Hoffman and Woodward by Robert Redford.  Both are fantastic as you would expect.  The pair exude the excitement of the hunt as they hit the pavement trying to nail down the biggest story in American journalism. The movie has a very spontaneous feel as several blown lines are included in the film by director Alan Pakula (Sophie’s Choice, To Kill a Mockingbird).  Pakula works to capture the feel of a newsroom, and accurately portrays the difficult decisions made by Washington Post editors to go after the leader of the free world.  The supporting cast is also great with Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, and Jason Robards filling out the Post’s staff.  Hal Holbrook plays the now famous “deep throat” anonymous source that broke the story for Woodward and Bernstein.

The film holds remarkably true to the book (and reality).  Woodward and Bernstein themselves did their best to prevent Hollywood from doing their Hollywood thing.  There is no love interest, no car chases, and no bullshit.  There is some embellishment and a few characters merged together, but you are getting a realistic look at the story.  The breaks in the case, the uncovered documents, most of the interviews, and the connections discovered are accurate. 

As the movie progresses, we see the echoes of the deep state that we hear so much of today.  Many of the main players in Nixon’s dirty tricks operation were former FBI (G. Gordon Liddy and Bernard Barker) and CIA (E Howard Hunt and James McCord).  The President (Nixon is portrayed in actual news clips) seems to go right on with his business, ignoring the oncoming disaster.  The most significant difference in the current situation are the main characters.  Two intrepid reporters determined to break a story no matter where it leads.  That seems to be a thing of the past unfortunately, as most journalists today only appear to have a rooting interest in their preferred outcomes. 

Despite the lack of Hollywood flair, this film will keep you engaged.  That’s a tough act for a true story drama where everyone knows how it ends.  The movie runs about two hours and twenty minutes.  Appreciate the historical nature of the film and some of the best actors that Hollywood has produced.  Perhaps we will see a remake of sorts in a few years.  One never knows.    

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