5-Word 365 #331 – All The President’s Men

Sometimes it’s the classics that slip through the net the easiest. Here’s another from the Why Haven’t I Seen This? pile.

All The President’s Men

Bernstein really smokes a lot.

There’s been a break-in, at the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate building. Bob Woodward, a young reporter for the Washington Post, thinks there is more behind it than anyone wants to believe. After being assigned to work with the more experienced Carl Bernstein, the two start pulling at the threads only to discover that this time the conspiracy really does go all the way to the top. And the best part? It’s all (mostly) true.

They just don’t make movies like this anymore, and the world is a lesser place because of it. Released in 1976, Alan J. Pakula’s film takes a script by the legendary William Goldman and turns a story that could have been immensely boring into a gripping drama/thriller that plays like a cross between Three Days of the Condor and Press Gang (there’s one for all the thirty-year-old Brits in the crowd!). Goldman’s screenplay itself is nothing short of a masterpiece. As recounted in his 1983 book Adventures in the Screen Trade, it took up two years of his life and untold drafts and meetings with Woodward, Bernstein and star/producer Robert Redford. But the result, from my perspective anyway, was worth it. The newsroom scenes in particular just buzz with authenticity and excitement. You have to pay attention to catch all the overlapping dialogue but your effort is paid off in spades.

They’re gonna link arms and start high-kicking any second. I can just feel it.

As authentic as the script (an adaptation of Woodward and Bernstein’s own book) and the production may be, President’s Men would not be as successful as it is without that cast. From Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Woodward and Bernstein, to Jack Warden as Metro editor Harry Rosenfeld, Martin Balsam as managing editor Howard Simons and Jason Robards as the Post’s mercurial executive editor Ben Bradlee, everyone is at the absolute top of their game. As much as I love Rocky, the fact that it won Best Picture over this is bewildering.

The way of the world means that All the President’s Men is as much a historical document as a work of entertainment, capturing a look at something that doesn’t really exist anymore: investigative print journalism. In these days of Leveson Reports and phone hacking and paparazzi and Fox News, seeing the way things used to be done is both inspiring and depressing in equal measure.

Am I the only one who wants to go to work in a tuxedo now?

If this flick floats your boat the same way it does mine, I also recommend the BBC miniseries State of Play and season 5 of The Greatest TV Show Ever Madeβ„’ The Wire for more glimpses into the sadly lost world of the newspaper.


  1. Fogs' Movie Reviews · November 27, 2012

    LOL at your comment box quote Ryan. Nice πŸ˜€

    Anyways, I love this movie too. It is incredible. An incredible, true story and they recreated it with such a sense of authenticity. Personally, I defend “Rocky”‘s win, I think it was totally worthy, but that is undoubtedly one of the most insane classes ever for Best Picture… they also had Network and Taxi Driver that year. Good grief. Much less supportive of Alvidsen winning best director, but the academy rarely splits the two.

    Anyways, great choice of movies, and I agree that this is an incredible classic.

    IF you have interest… here’s my write up on it. http://fogsmoviereviews.com/2011/09/04/movies-that-everyone-should-see-all-the-presidents-men/ my apologies if you consider it spammy, feel free to edit if so. LOL πŸ˜€

    • Ryan McNeely · November 27, 2012

      Nah Fogs, that wasn’t spammy. Not compared to the endless crap I have to wade through every day!
      What’s funny about this film is that one of the coolest scenes in the flick (Bernstein’s fake-out of Dargis’ secretary down in Miami) was about the only bit that was entirely made up! That’s the only remnant from a draft that Bernstein himself wrote with his then-girlfriend Nora Ephron.

      • Fogs' Movie Reviews · November 27, 2012

        Oh wow, never realized Ephron and Bernstein dated. That’s a cool scene though anyways. πŸ˜€

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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