Classic Movie Review: All the President’s Men (1976)


Title: All the President’s Men
Release Date: April 4, 1976
Director: Alan J. Pakula
Production Company: Wildwood Enterprises
Summary/Review:  This docudrama dramatizes the investigative journalism of Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) at The Washington Post to connect the burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices at Watergate to President Richard Nixon. It’s kind of fascinating to think of audiences watching this movie at the time of release when the events depicted had just happened but are already being shown with the sheen of historicity.

The acting is top notch with Redford and Hoffman joined by Jason Robards as the Post‘s editor Ben Bradlee and Hal Holbrook as “Deep Throat” among others. The movie does a great job of creating tension out of rather mundane tasks like making phone calls and taking notes so that it is very compelling to watch. The movie also incorporates actual tv and radio news footage from the time period which I think was something new for narrative films, although it would become more common. On the downside, there isn’t much characterization for the leads beyond that Bernstein is apparently the better writer and Woodward is more fastidious about getting the facts right.  I don’t feel that we get any sense of who Woodward and Bernstein were as people apart from being idealistic journalists.

While I won’t deny that this is an excellent film, it is a curious choice for the AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Films list.  I expect it is recognized for the film’s influence in dramatize recent political events as well as inspiring generations of idealistic journalists.  I also suspect it is considered an important film because it relates to an important event in American history.  More cynically, it could be that it’s about a significant event in the life of the Baby Boomer generation and thus deemed important because Baby Boomers remain the tastemakers of American culture.  All that aside, it’s an excellent film worth watching.

Rating: ****

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