Anthony's Film Review
All the President's Men (1976)
An engaging drama about unraveling a shocking political conspiracy...
U.S. President Richard Nixon was notorious for his association with the infamous Watergate scandal. It was an unthinkable network of lies, secrets, corruption, and deception. It would take an attempted but failed burglary at the Watergate Hotel to open the door into this inner circle. It would take the never-ending curiosity of reporters to uncover the hidden truth. Two of these key players were Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. They stepped through the door and lived to write a book about their journey.
That book was called All the President's Men, released in 1974. It was made into a film, released two years later, that starred Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein and Robert Redford as Woodward. The first thing I found interesting was their cinematic portrayal. Many films based on true stories like to focus on the personal lives of characters. This one doesn't, and that's fine. In fact, it's better that way since the focus of the film is the journey of uncovering a series of facts. It brings to life what journalism really is about: a series of nonstop efforts to gain information objectively. Bernstein and Woodward clearly take their job as reporters seriously.
Yet, for Bernstein and Woodward, the story of Watergate would prove to be far more difficult than they imagined. Almost every attempt to interview people results in falling too short on facts. Phone calls are ended abruptly, accompanied by refusal to divulge information. Already, this gives the impression that there are people trying to cover up something. The two reporters soon find themselves resorting to anonymous sources, including the mysterious Deep Throat, and trying to convince their editors that the facts they have so far still have integrity.
The film is essentially a series of interviews and things to do back at the news desk. At some points, there is a mild sense of mystery and intrigue. Once Deep Throat advises Woodward to "follow the money," the story shifts from the Watergate break-in to funds that ultimately go to the Committee to Re-elect the President. Bernstein and Woodward desperately knock on as many doors as possible, getting shut out by almost everyone. And when they do get some leads or possible leads, there is that sense of excitement as the reporters get closer to uncovering something huge.
Overall, the details of the whole scandal are complicated. It's no surprise that the film can be somewhat confusing to follow. Even if you don't get it all, you can at least appreciate the urgency of reporting the story first and getting it right. All the President's Men is notable as both a film about politics and a film about journalism. It is certainly a film one would think of when thinking about Nixon and Watergate. And when it's all over, there is a satisfying series of final close-up shots of a typewriter that bring the story full circle.
For more information about All the President's Men, visit the Internet Movie Database.