Alan J. Pakula's "All the President's Men" (1976) is the greatest journalism film in cinematic history. It's up there with the classics of the political realm, as well. "All the President's Men" is both chilling and exhilarating because of its performances, setting, pacing, and of course the fact that it's all true.
Isn't it mind-boggling that something like this really occurred? I think we're all a bit skeptical of the American government and what it hides at times, but a scandal involving politicians and officials at all levels, one leading all the way up to the President of the United States?
"Jesus" -- as John Mitchell says to Carl Bernstein (played wonderfully by Dustin Hoffman) when Carl tells him about the groundbreaking story he plans to run the following day. That's all I can say.
I've seen "All the President's Men" six or seven times, and I've been mesmerized each and every time. The performances are perfect, the truths are shocking, and the reality is one of the most incredible stories in American history.
Look closely at the cast. As I've already said, Hoffman is excellent as Bernstein. Robert Redford, in one of the most balanced and seamless performances of his illustrious career, is equally as good as the now-famous Bob Woodward. Jason Robards is a scene stealer as editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee, in a performance that I'm told IS Bradlee...to a tee. Robards' fantastic work earned him the Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Every other supporting role is precisely executed. Jane Alexander deserves special consideration as "The Bookkeeper" with all the dirty little secrets, and Alexander in fact received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The funny thing is, she's on screen for two scenes. That's it. And one of them is very short. That's how subtle her performance is, and how effective.
Hal Holbrook is particularly memorable as "Deep Throat," Woodward's oft-talked about background source for the series of Watergate stories. Within the past five years we've learned that Deep Throat was actually William Mark Felt Sr., a formerly prominent FBI agent. Holbrook's portrayal leaves a lasting impression, and director Pakula shoots his scenes with atmosphere and tension.
Stephen Collins (as Hugh Sloan) and Robert Walden (as Donald Segretti) are also deserving of mention.
When it comes down to it, what's memorable about this film is the way it unfolds. The trials and tribulations of "Woodstein's" reporting process. The real-feeling board meetings at the Washington Post. The eerie sense that Woodward is going to get whacked. The way Woodward and Bernstein work off one another, and the chemistry that Redford and Hoffman reflect on screen.
All things considered, this is a masterpiece. Now let's not give Pakula and the cast all of the credit for that...
Hell, we should thank President Nixon for the storyline.
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