The United States Of America lost its political innocence with the Watergate scandals. The effects of what happened starting with those burglars caught breaking into the Democratic headquarters of the Watergate Apartment complex and what came afterward will damage the national psyche for the next few centuries.
What always got me about Watergate is that it was so unnecessary for Richard Nixon's re-election. And that was what it was all about. Nixon was at the peak of popularity, he would have won in 1972 without all the shenanigans pulled by his Committee to Re-Elect the President. But in the possessed mind of Richard Nixon who saw enemies everywhere, it wasn't enough to just beat the Democratic opponent.
It was also why the Watergate scandal took hold, the motives behind it were strictly political, to re-elect the incumbent president. Iran/Contra never got the traction that Watergate got because in the final analysis it was about foreign policy differences. The motives if not pure were not tainted with partisanship either.
Films like Nixon with Anthony Hopkins and Nixon/Frost with Frank Langella give you a view of the man at the center of it all. Another rather skewered view of Watergate can be gotten from the film Born Again about Chuck Colson, one of the key players in Watergate. But this film is from the outside looking in. It takes two fairly new reporters from the Washington Post, Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein, covering the police beat of the Post who are in night court as the Watergate burglars are arraigned and slowly realize they could be sitting on the story of a lifetime.
Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are Woodward and Bernstein. Editor Ben Bradlee played by Jason Robards realizes that in the final analysis this is a crime story first and foremost. So rather than give it to some top political reporter, he lets Woodward and Bernstein run with it. It made their reputations down to today.
Director Alan J. Pakula made clever use of the color newsreel footage and interspersed it with the dramatic story. Through the newsreels the well known names and faces actually do become actors in the proceedings.
In fact despite the fact that Jason Robards won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Jane Alexander for playing the bookkeeper at the campaign headquarters got nominated for Best Supporting Actress, the key performance in the film in my opinion is that of Robert Walden who played Donald Segretti, a young attorney who became part of the White House plumbers dirty tricks squad. He's the only one of the Watergate principals who gets a full blown fictional portrayal here. He gives the Watergate scandal the face for the viewer and its not a pretty one.
All The President's Men missed the Best Picture Oscar and a Best Director for Alan J. Pakula. But it managed to win Oscars for Best Sound, Best Art&Set Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay besides the Oscar Robards won.
Both Redford and Hoffman who are a couple of name players as stars gave what would be subdued performances in the sense that they never allowed their star personas to interfere with the telling of the story. That's what makes All The President's Men such a lasting classic.
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