This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
All the President's Men
At times it looked like it might cost them their jobs, their reputations, and maybe even their lives.
In the run-up to the 1972 elections, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward covers what seems to be a minor break-in at the Democratic Party National headquarters. He is surprised to find top lawyers already on the defense case, and the discovery of names and addresses of Republican fund organizers on the accused further arouses his suspicions. The editor of the Post is prepared to run with the story and assigns Woodward and Carl Bernstein to it. They find the trail leading higher and higher in the Republican Party, and eventually into the White House itself.
All the President's Men is primarily a staggering display of a perfectly paranoid craftsman. Alan J. Pakula pulls tensity and fascinations out from an otherwise excruciating process - investigative journalism. He observes facts, meticulous dates, times and names, closer than facile characters or broadly stroked stakes. Yet so closely watched is each victory, processed step and intensity of two men's integrity in the face of uncovering a web of mystery that it is impossible to turn away. As each aspect of a seemingly simple burglary piece thickens into political intrigue, it's purely gripping.
The murky, shadowy and paranoid city scapes of Washington brighten the meticulous details of mapping out a potential giant-ranged political corruption case. Most will know the outcome,…
Allow me a moment of nerdery.
Back in the days when Empire magazine was good and I used to buy it, I used to pretty often snip bits out of their magazines and stick them on my wall. Usually they were just ads for films or maybe the occasional picture of Julia Ormond, Cameron Diaz or Winona Ryder. But sometimes I would snip out their Classic Scene section.
This was basically just the screenplay version of a classic scene from a great movie from years gone by. One of the ones I took out was a scene from All The President's Men, a film I had only just seen and loved a few months before. It was this scene:-
This is perhaps one of the best procedural films ever made and what I respect about it is that it approaches its subject matter without frills and added fictional distractors to spice up the story. It sticks to the task at hand and, much like the journalists featuring in the story, it is intent on presenting the account as close to the truth as possible.
Alan J. Pakula seems to understand one thing very well here and that is that if you want to tell a story as intricate as this one, you have to make sure that the audience will listen to those telling it. He does that brilliantly by allowing for a lot of dialogue, not forcing himself…
One thread that stood out on this watch: A quiet but brutal critique of television to rival the far louder satire of Network, which was released the same year. The film repeatedly shows televisions, mostly around the Washington Post newsroom, presenting a counterfactual narrative of the Nixon administration that stands in complete opposition to the one assembled by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. While they search for the facts, the Post TVs mostly regurgitate the Nixon party line and publicize their “non-denial denials” of the latest Post story, propagating an illusion of a moral, lawful President unfairly attacked by a politically motivated newspaper and its agenda-driven journalists. TV obscures the truth while newspapers expose it, an idea neatly encapsulated in the final scene where Nixon is inaugurated on television in the foreground, while Woodward and Bernstein pound away on their typewriters in the background.
Amazing what you can get away with when the subject is so recent and momentous that a general audience can be trusted to respond to minutiae. Zodiac actually seems concise by comparison (it also has a killer to cut away to for a while, whereas this is 100% investigation after the break-in), and Pakula continually makes choices that would be considered daft in almost any other Hollywood context: introducing his protagonists with zero fanfare, as if they were bit players; training the camera on notes and doodles in order to foreground a slow accumulation of bewildering detail; letting actors shout at each other over the sound of an airplane passing overhead, when neither the plane nor the shouting has…
I remember, during waning of the nineteen sixties, and the waxing of the seventies, that my American Aunt and Uncle, Republicans both, would refer to their leader as ‘Tricky Dick’.
Aside from my Aunt and Uncle, news of the Watergate scandal flowed across the border to my teenage self via Walter Cronkite, Harry Reasoner, and John Chancellor. While I wasn’t glued to the TV, it somehow was an interesting soap opera taking place south of the border. Like any news story, I expected it to die down … but it didn’t. I remember being shocked at how, at the endgame, it moved so quickly, and that Nixon resigned.
Despite seeing the real story unfold in real-time on TV, I remember…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Watching the opening credits for this, my first thought was, "Why did they need Gordon Willis on cinematography for this?" I immediately understood once we meet Deep Throat.
Loses points for the abruptness of the ending. Maybe this is just it being a product of its time, coming so soon after the actual Watergate scandal. However, you can't make a shadowy, propulsive newspaper thriller that practically gets off on revealing new facts, and then just cut to black while Woodward and Bernstein are still in the middle (albeit further along than ever) of their case. This is a film that revels in the pleasure and excitement of discovering new truths, and the film cuts away from us before we can discover the endgame of those truths.
A film predicated upon the journalistic process more-so than telling or abiding by any kind of cohesive or conventional narrative structure. A bold tipping point for "New Hollywood" filmmaking as it drags the audience through the realms of making the audience involved in every false lead and wrong number.
Read the full review on my personal website, stevethemovieman.proboards.com/thread/5218/all-presidents-men
As timely today as it was in 1976, All The President's Men creates a layered, gripping procedural thriller through impeccable acting, writing and direction.
I think i watched this film before, but it was called Spotlight.
Solid in all ways. Redford & Hoffman are engaging in the movie.
no bullshit editing, just facts and perfectly crafted tension and paranoia.
Solid movie. Feels like Spotlight took a lot of cues from this one — though I think Spotlight actually did it slightly better. But that shouldn’t undermine how good this is.
I looooove journalism films so much.
Flawless, gripping filmmaking. Tension stripped down, and an ode to journalism.
One of the most important American films, not just for what it's content represents but for its craft.
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