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All The President's Men (1976)

  Directed by: Alan J Pakula
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jason Robards
Links: All The President's Men on the IMDb, Buy on DVD, Buy on Video, Buy the Book
Genre: Based on True Story

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

All The President's Men (1976) is also mentioned in mino's review of Magnolia (1999).

"One for the history buffs" - a review by mino

OK. So I'll freely admit that when it comes to politics, I'm a junkie. The "corridors of power" have always fascinated me, and I'm always up for a bit of West Wing-style political intrigue. Now I'm well aware that 95% of the population in Australia couldn't give a fat rat's about Australian politics, let alone those of the US of A; but I, at least, love it, and the Watergate saga is surely one of the most fascinating stories in political history.

For those who really don't care, well, I'm pretty sure you won't like the movie anyway. But just in case, All The President's Men tells the story of the Watergate break-in, which ultimately brought down US President Richard Nixon. The movie opens with the famous discovery by a security guard of the taped-open door catch at the Democratic Party national headquarters, and from that point, I was riveted. Riveted, I admit, to a story which is fundamentally about journalism. I'm not sure if that makes me pathetic, or merely sad. Anyway, Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) are reporters on The Washington Post who smell something rotten with the break-in, and doggedly pursue the story to its bitter end, in the face of doubt and opposition from almost everyone, including their editor.

Despite the obvious problems with making a movie about a couple of goofballs interviewing people and looking things up in telephone books, All The President's Men is actually gripping -- and the plaudits for that can go straight to Hoffman and Redford, who really are fantastic. But while those two manage to hold the movie together, it is Jason Robards as Post editor Ben Bradlee who manages to steal the show. Equal parts cantakerous old bastard and eager newshound, Bradlee is the overseer of the whole operation: excited about the discoveries made by Woodward and Bernstein, but fundamentally cautious and sceptical. Robards is perfectly cast, because if there's one man who could do cantankerous old bastard, it was he. I just wish he'd had more screen time, because both the actor and the character were fascinating to watch.

To be able to make an exciting movie starring Hoffman and Redford would, on the face of it, not seem to be much of a challenge: but when that story consists, in a large part, of readings lists of names and numbers over and over again, it's no mean feat, and All The President's Men is a damn exciting movie. I'll freely admit that even for a political nerd like myself, keeping track of the dozens of names getting thrown around was difficult, and if I didn't already know of most of the key players I'm sure I would have been lost; but as it was, I couldn't get enough. My only regret is the rather abrupt ending, which I think could have been fleshed out a bit more to provide more detail on what happened to the key players, rather than just stopping dead.

Ahh well. So you don't think there's anything interesting in the world of politics? Go and watch All The President's Men. Who knows, you might learn something, you ignoramus.

mino gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 8 Jul 2002

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Reader comments

  1. nice

    Rating given: 8

    A comment from jack f on Wed 15 Oct 2003 02:41 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 8.00 (1 rating)

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