Let me tell you readers something about newspaper movies. They are generally about the excitement of the events that is occurring, but seldom do these kind of movies allow the audience to know that the majority of retrieving information is dull and tedious. In 1976’s All the President’s Men, that is exactly what it’s all about. This is a newspaper movie that takes you through the finer points of the newspaper business accurately as possible with very little action and mostly dialogue. I see that as a good thing……and a bad thing. See, there are some movies that should be accurate as possible and this is one of them. This movie is about how the Washington Post uncovered the Watergate Scandal and accuracy is about the best you’ll see in any film. But does that sacrifice the entertainment value of the movie? It depends on the moviegoer you are. If you like movie with lots of exposition, then you’ll have no problem. I think it also depends on your historical knowledge of the film and the more you know, the more interesting it can be. That being said, the movie has a reputation of being one of 1976’s finest films. I may not think so, although I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The story lends some historical value and it can grow tense at times. This film needs strong acting and it received excellent performances from everyone down to the last man. We can also credit the director for the relative success of the movie. William Goldman’s screenplay is all dialogue, and director Alan J. Pakula was able to take those words and bring them onscreen while keeping the movie’s tempo at a fast pace and getting performances out of all his actors.
So to understand this movie means you need to understand what led up to the infamous Watergate Scandal. That is essentially the plot of the movie. Heading up to the 1972 presidential elections, Bob Woodward (Robert Redford)-a reporter for the Washington Post, uncovers what seems to be a minor break-in at the Democratic Party National Headquarters. He grows suspicious when he sees that top defense lawyers are on the case already. The editor of the Post, Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) wants to run the story and he assigns Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) to do so. As they uncover more information, they see how high up the Republican Party is involved in this cover up.
Another reason why this movie worked is because of the charm and pedigree of the cast. The movie is given an unusually stacked cast given the time period of the film. What I really liked about this cast is how they become so immersed in their roles. I wasn’t watching Robert Redford or Dustin Hoffman, but instead I was watching Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They truly became reporters onscreen, and that is the mark of a good actor. To become the person the actors are playing. Redford and Hoffman were outstanding and they show great chemistry with each other. Let’s not forget about the smaller characters though. Jason Robards did an excellent job as the executive editor Ben Bradlee who always shown support in his reporters even if things went south. Martin Balsam does a solid job as the managing editor, Howard Simons. Then we have Jane Alexander as the woman who provided the men with their best leads. Last but not least, we have the great Hal Holbrook as Deep Throat, the mysterious source of the men. Everyone was able to take the words from William Goldman’s screenplay and make it their own words, which it’s very hard to do in the movies.
On the whole, All The President’s Men is a fine movie. Although I feel this could have been an instant classic that could have been destined for greatness. In some eyes, it is. Given its long length, this film could have been overly dull and tedious, but the cast, Pakula’s incredible direction, and a really interesting story were able to make this a taut, entertaining thriller. We get to learn about the journalistic process given that its repeated in several cycles, which can grow tiresome at some point. I liked this movie enough to give this movie a recommend, especially if you’re interested in seeing how the Watergate Scandal came to be with the utmost historical accuracy. Also this movie is just a good vehicle for the starpower of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.
My Grade: B