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…
The reasons that this is a good movie don't really have anything to do with its real world relevancy. Instead, it's the noirish portrait of a Washington D.C. filled with paranoia and the dashing embodiment of values that the stars represent that play off each other in interesting ways. Because of the script's obligation to some supposed truth, it has a lot of obligatory sequences that don't quite work. Still, there's something impressive about a movie this matter-of-fact working at all.
I want a typewriter
I realize I mostly enjoy this film thanks to the 70's journalism - the book piles, the smattering typewrites, the constant smoking and talking through a stationary phone - but it's not only that. It's also a really well-made, very pure and captivating depiction of political corruption.
Remember when people excused SPOTLIGHT looking and sounding like a TV movie with "but journalism tho?"
This movie captivated me in such a way that it's actually difficult to describe what it was that I loved so much. All I can say is that I loved it. I guess I just have a weakness for the journalistic procedural. I can't help but be totally engrossed in the process. I just love watching smart people being smart.
A stark and brilliantly paced political thriller, "All the President's Men" captures paranoia and riveting performances from both Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.
"All the President's Men" has a fantastic ability to build a strong structure in telling a complicated and often at times frustrating story of journalism and connecting all the dots to the Watergate Scandal.
Not knowing anything about American politics and not really giving a shit about it, I watched this film for Dustin Hoffman and to a lesser extent Robert Redford. Described as a ‘Political Thriller’ I found nothing about this film thrilling and all though performances across the board were good and I can see that it’s a well made film it is, to me, nothing special.
It's always funny when you watch a movie and you realize that The Simpsons did a parody of it.
I liked the whole experience of All the President's Men even if at times I had some difficulties following the story and remembering all the character's names, but it's also a bit my fault if I start to watch a political thriller at 23.50.
I have to compare it to Spotlight (for the journalism component) and The Big Short (for the complexity of the subject), both movies that I enjoyed watching some months ago.
As a member of the journalism school in my undergrad, this film had special significance to me going in. Commonly lauded as the most exciting and accurate depiction of the profession (at least until Spotlight), its also considered a necessary viewing for its pair of great lead actors. Its interesting that many would consider All the President's Men exciting since it is the epitome of a slow-burn film. But journalism is hard to make into an interesting film while still maintaining semblance to reality. The grind of interviewing person after person to piece a story together is hardly the stuff of heart-pumping action.
Still, All the President's Men is one of the few exceptions. Its a constantly tense film that…
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
currently trying to read all 339 books that are mentioned as well.
(i created this list with a…