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,…
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.
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…
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…
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…
An in depth look at investigative journalism and its ability to take down power structures.
Finally got this off my list. Excellent game of cover-up and intrigue in the times not so far away. truth is much much more entertaining than fiction. And once more, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. They should do more films, while they sell can!
Occasionally lost in discussions of the remarkable narrative propulsion of a purely journalistic film (Spotlight can't hold a candle to this) is what an amazingly directed work it is. From the meaningful split diopter shots to the remarkable long takes to the gunshot pounding of typewriter keys, it's a completely crafted work from start to finish. This is no mere filmed stage play.
This was a good movie, it felt like a slice out of these guys lives, and the editing reflected it. It just didn't stop moving, jumping from one scene to the next with only occasional stops to breathe. It worked well though, it felt like it served a purpose, it made the movie feel biographical. The characters were interesting and well written, but it didn't feel like a movie about the characters, it felt like a movie about the plot. which usually is a problem, and is indicative or a bad movie, we connect with the characters after all, but Woodward and Berstien's interactions with the unraveling conspiracies keep you invested in what's going on and you want to see…
Bob Woodward and Carl Berstein are American heroes.
The best journalism movie to date.
I have always enjoyed movies about journalism. While I have no real interest in the profession itself, it's hard not to respect and admire the journalists of the world when you watch movies such as Zodiac (2007), Spotlight (2015), and this.
I must admit that I know next to nothing about politics. It never really interested me. But this only furthers my admiration for the people behind this movie; it's a subject matter that I care nothing about, which involves people I've never heard of and vocabulary that I don't recognize. And I loved every single second of it.
There aren't a lot of negative things I have to say about this movie, but…
Thank God I wasn’t alive and voting for Oscars in 1976. I’m not a huge fan of “Rocky,” but I would have had to contend with voting that included “Network” (which I have seen) and “Taxi Driver” (which I haven’t seen). To complicate matters, I would also would have had to reckon with this film: “All the President’s Men.” As a journalism student and budding cinephile, I might have had to go with this movie as my favorite of the bunch, simply because it’s a near masterpiece.
You know the story of this picture. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman star as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, respectively, “The Washington Post” journalists who uncovered the Watergate cover-up. Moviegoers watch as these…
Terrific compositions. Fascinating use of language without spoke dialogue. Ending nails these areas.
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…