Tuesday, February 11, 2014

All The President's Men (1976)

Here's a great thriller with no car chases or explosions.

In his commentary, actor and producer Robert Redford notes the talent behind this fine 1976 drama feared audiences would find a story about two newspaper reporters digging into the Watergate break-in to be too boring.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Director Alan Pakula's All the President's Men rolls right along thanks to a great cast and crackerjack storytelling.

New Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward (Redford) senses something is up after the Democratic national headquarters is broken into. He drops by the courthouse and sees a bigshot attorney (Nicolas Coster) is in the gallery. Such high-priced talent seems at odds with a bungled break-in. The story keeps getting more interesting. All the accused have ties to the Central Intelligence Agency. The name of a special counsul to President Richard Nixon enters the fray.

Woodward gets teamed up with more experienced writer Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) to keep digging. The pressure the two reporters is under is significant. Few other reporters in Washington are paying attention to the Watergate break-in. Post brass want political writers to take on the story. Plenty of people Bernstein and Woodward want to speak with are keeping their lips tightly shut. Many doors are shut in their faces. The New York Times is also sniffing around, covering the same people. The two Post reporters don't want to lose a scoop - the most important thing for a working journalist.

Their determined efforts yields occasional paydirt - people associated with the Republican party and a committee to re-elect Nixon who are willing to talk off the record, to a point. A bookkeeper (Jane Alexander) is the first to speak. A lawyer, Donald Segretti (Robert Walden), who has helped the Republicans mess up the efforts of Democratic candidates also talks. Woodward also has Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook), an insider who also offers limited guidance and points out where the Post's efforts are wrong - or not digging deep enough.

This film, winner of four Oscars, boasts a stellar supporting cast including Jason Robards as Post publisher Ben Bradlee. He's interested, to a point, in what Woodward and Bernstein are doing, but keeps demanding more sources to back up their story. Jack Warden and Martin Balsam are also very fine as newspaper managers.

All the President's Men is one of those films where viewers must pay very close attention to keep connecting the dots in the plot. Redford's reaction, at several points, is impressive as he realizes the scope of his story keeps getting bigger and bigger.

What a great joy - as a newspaper reporter - to see a bustling newsroom and big stories being chased. I love the final shot of Nixon celebrating his re-election with Redford in the background pecking away at another story that would eventually force Nixon to resign from office.

All the President's Men is a great film.

RATING: 10/10

FUN FACTS: Stephen Collins, who appears as Hugh Sloan, starred in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Wow. F. Murray Abraham is one of the police officers who nabs the Watergate burglars.

Nicolas Coster was a seaman in 1953's Titanic.

That's television mom Meredith Baxter as Sloan's wife, Debbie.

1 comment:

James The Movie Reviewer said...

All the President's Men is another movie on my bucket list that I need to get around to watching! And your review certainly piques my interest even more.