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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A third-rate burglary attempt"
- that was how presidential Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler referred to the attempted June 17, 1972 break-in at the Washington, D.C. Watergate building in his initial comments on the event. Not worthy of further notice, although "certain elements" might try to "stretch this beyond what it is." Ziegler would come to eat his words several times over when, as a result of the...
Published on 12 Mar 2004 by Themis-Athena

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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A third-rate burglary attempt", 12 Mar 2004
By 
Themis-Athena (from somewhere between California and Germany) - See all my reviews
- that was how presidential Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler referred to the attempted June 17, 1972 break-in at the Washington, D.C. Watergate building in his initial comments on the event. Not worthy of further notice, although "certain elements" might try to "stretch this beyond what it is." Ziegler would come to eat his words several times over when, as a result of the Pulitzer Prize-winning reports by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, one senior government official after the other lost his post to the prospect of exchanging suit and tie for prison garbs, until at last even President Nixon himself was compelled to resign from the office which, as he'd declared only shortly before, he had "no intention whatever of ever walking away from."
Based on Woodward and Bernstein's bestselling book and released only two years after Nixon's resignation, "All the President's Men" chronicles the two reporters' investigation of the infamous money trail leading from the burglars' court arraignment and notations in two of their notebooks to White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and to a conspiracy which, as the reporters would discover, went far beyond a simple attempt to plant bugs at the national Democratic headquarters, and was chiefly engineered through the Republican Committee to Re-Elect the President (appropriately acronymed "CReeP"). While the events are somewhat streamlined and not all of the individuals actually involved in the conspiracy are mentioned - wisely so, as even the information that *is* given takes either several viewings of the film or a close reference to the underlying book to be fully digested - the movie faithfully depicts the events as they are described in the two reporters' account.
Woodward and Bernstein were an unlikely match; both regarding their personalities and their respective backgrounds: Woodward an Illinois native, Yale graduate and former naval officer with upper-crust ties, only nine months with the Post when the Watergate story broke; Bernstein a D.C. native and college dropout with liberal leanings, who had worked his way up in the business from age sixteen onwards. Yet, over time they not only came to be friends but actually worked together so closely that their colleagues took to addressing them collectively as "Woodstein." Equally unlikely was their staffing on the Watergate story, as neither of them was a senior journalist with the Washington Post, nor were they on steady assignment with its national desk. Yet, largely due to patronage by the paper's Metro Editor, as well as eventually Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, they were able to pursue their investigation to its very end.
Starring as Bernstein and Woodward are Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford (who had purchased the film rights to the story shortly after the book's publication and is also one of the movie's co-producers). Both actors performed a tremendous amount of research for their roles, which enabled them not only to perfectly portray the two lead characters - and this although Redford in particular has virtually no physical resemblance to Woodward - but also to convey their tenacity in pursuing a story that even their own colleagues at first didn't want to believe, and in whose development they were hampered at every corner. Similarly, Jason Robards, who won a "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar and several other awards for his role as Ben Bradlee, convincingly nails the famous newsman's mix of New England pedigree and tough talk; and Jack Warden, Martin Balsam and Hal Holbrook are equally compelling as Metro Editor Harry Rosenfeld, Managing Editor Howard Simons and Woodward's still-unidentified source "Deep Throat." Outstanding in a cast featuring dozens of actors are further Jane Alexander as bookkeeper and reluctant source Judy Hoback, Ned Beatty as Florida prosecutor Martin Dardis, Stephen Collins as former Haldeman aide and CReeP treasurer Hugh Sloan, Robert Walden as California attorney and "ratf*cking" organizer Donald Segretti and Penny Fuller as Woodward's and Bernstein's colleague Sally Aiken, who uses her personal contacts to provide crucial CReeP insider information. (Plus, watch out for F. Murray Abraham's brief appearance as one of the arresting officers at the Watergate.)
What makes "All the President's Men" so compelling are, of course, first and foremost the true facts of the underlying story; the sheer enormity of a conspiracy constituting nothing less than a full-fledged attack on the electoral process and on the very foundations of the American democracy, and involving the entire U.S. intelligence community and almost all of the Republican establishment, up to and including former President Nixon. Appropriately, the movie is styled in the way of a documentary, resisting all temptations to hype the events and relying entirely on its stellar cast and on the authenticity provided by its D.C. location shots, by the recreation of the Washington Post's newsroom (with numerous props supplied by the paper itself), and by actual TV footage from the era. And although David Shire is credited for his soundtrack contribution, the film's most memorable sounds are not those of his almost non-audible score but the hammering of the reporters' typewriters, of the news ticker announcing the story's final developments, and of the gunshot- and whiplash-enforced pounding of the opening caption. Not surprisingly, the movie also won the Academy Award for Best Sound, in addition to Robards's and those for Best Writing (William Goldman, with input from Carl Bernstein and his former wife Nora Ephron) and Best Art Direction. Why it didn't also win the "Best Movie" award, I will never understand. (Rocky who?!)
"Nothing's riding on this except the First Amendment of the Constitution, the freedom of the press and maybe the future of the country," Ben Bradlee tells Woodward and Bernstein after their investigation has almost faltered over a misunderstanding with two sources regarding Haldeman's involvement, and he adds: "Not that any of that matters. But if you guys f*ck up again, I'm going to get mad ..." They didn't give him reason to. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history - hopefully never to be repeated, anywhere in the world.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Watergate scandal from the reporters' perspective, 30 Sep 2003
By 
Dennis Littrell (SoCal/NorCal/Maui) - See all my reviews
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This dramatization of how it was discovered that the burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D. C. was funded and directed by the Nixon White House is a lot better than it has any right to be. Given the tedious, non-glamorous and frankly boring leg- and phone-work that is often the lot of the investigative reporter, it is surprising that this is a very interesting movie even if you don't care two beans about the Watergate scandal. In fact, this is really more about how the story was put together than it is about the scandal itself. It is also a lot less political than might be expected.
It stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and they are good, with excellent support from Jason Robards (Oscar as Best Supporting Actor) playing Post Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, and Jane Alexander as an innocent caught up in the machinations. But what makes the movie work is the Oscar-winning script adapted from the Woodward and Bernstein best seller by that old Hollywood pro, William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969, Misery 1990, etc.). What he does so very well, even though we know the outcome, is to establish and maintain the tension as Woodward and Bernstein run all over town chasing leads and misdirections. He accomplishes this by putting just enough varied obstacles in the path of our intrepid reporters, notably the Washington bureaucracy and the understandably cautious senior editors at the Post.
The direction by Alan J. Pakula (Comes a Horseman 1978, Sophie's Choice 1982, etc.) focuses the scenes nicely, keeps the camera where it belongs, and highlights the story with a shadowy Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook), skitterish sources, and a vivid recreation of a top American newspaper at work. I was especially enthralled to see the interactions among the reporters, the editors and the sources. I thought they all looked and sounded authentic, Redford's good looks having nothing to do with the story, which was right, and Hoffman's flair for the intense reigned in, which was necessary. The diffidence of Alexander's character and the soft pushiness of Woodward and Bernstein were tempered just right. Bradlee's stewardship of the story and his ability to take a calculated risk seemed true to life.
Some details that stood out: Redford's hunt and peck typing contrasted with Hoffman's all fingers flying; the talking heads on the strategically placed TVs, reacting (via actual video footage) to the developing story--deny, deny, deny! of course. The thin reporter's spiral notebooks being pulled out and then later flipped through to find a quote. The bright lights of the newsroom looking expansive with all those desks as though there were mirrors on the walls extending an illusion. The seemingly silly tricks to get a source to confirm: just nod your head; I'll count to ten and if you're still on the line... And you know what I liked best? No annoying subplot!
The rather abrupt resolution with the teletype banging out the leads to a sequence of stories that led to President Nixon's resignation had just the right feel to it, especially for those of us who have actually experienced the goosepimply sensation that comes with watching a breaking story come in over the teletype. The quick wrap-up surprised me, but delighted me at the same time.
Bottom line: an excellent movie that wears well, a fine example of some of Hollywood's top professionals at work some thirty years ago. #30
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic, 13 Jan 2008
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The film itself is well-known, and is the true story of the second burglary and bugging attempt on the national HQ of the US Democratic Party, which took place in June 1972, and was organised by President Richard 'Tricky Dicky' Nixon's top aides, and almost certainly the President himself, The film also touches on numerous other crimes carried out by Nixon's team. The story is told from the point of view of the two journalists who uncovered the truth, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who were both junior Washington Post reporters, and significant parts of the dialogue in the film are taken verbatim from their book of the same name. It really only covers the first 6 months after the burglary, up to Nixon's d second inauguration, which is the period when the facts were being discovered and reported. It took another 20 months for Nixon to finally be forced to acknowledge the truth, and resign - this period is shown only as a series of headlines coming over a teleprinter. The film features one non-actor in a brief but starring role: Frank Wills, the Watergate security guard who discovered the break-in plays himself.

The second DVD is far more recent, and much of it was made following the disclosure that one of Woodward's main sources of information was Mark Felt, nicknamed 'Deep Throat' in the movie, then No. 2 at the FBI, one of the institutions corrupted by Nixon, along with the CIA and the Justice Dept. It contains:

Telling The Truth About Lies - 27 minutes
2006 documentary about the making of the film with Redford, Hoffman, Woodward, Bernstein, Bradlee, etc

Lighting The Fire - 18 minutes
2006 documentary about the significance of the journalism with Linda Ellerbee, Walter Cronkite, Greg Krikorian (LA Times), Jonathan Alter, senior editor of Newsweek, who believes that if Watergate happened now, due to political pressures to reveal their sources the reporters would probably have gone to jail, and the corruption of Nixon would not have been exposed. Ms. Ellerbee makes a claim I find hopelessly optimistic: 'we proved the system worked'. I have to say that I disagree strongly: it was sheer luck that Nixon was proved to be a crook. Firstly, if the Watergate buggers had been even half-competent, no link to the White House would have been discovered. Secondly, had Bob Woodward not happened to be a friend of Mark Felt, they wouldn't have been able to have developed the story, and finally, had Nixon not have had the sheer arrogance to have taped his corrupt conversations for 'posterity', the truth could still have been obscured by spin and lies.

Out Of The Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat - 16 minutes
2006 documentary following the revelation that 'Deep Throat' was in fact Mark Felt, the former No. 2 at the FBI.
This documentary is marked by a right-wing author who claims that Mark Felt had numerous options available to him apart from revealing the truth about Watergate to Bob Woodward. Thankfully this nonsense is shot down by many other contributors, notably Carl Bernstein, who says 'As we saw, when other institutions fail, the press is the last resort'. Bernstein, Woodward, the Washington Post, and the world got lucky.

Pressure and The Press - 10 minutes
1970's documentary about the events and reporting.

Dinah!
1976 TV interview with Jason Robards.

I guess I'd give the second DVD here 3 1/2 stars, if that were possible. I wouldn't rush out and buy this version if you already have the single disc, however.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for any wannabe journalist, 20 Nov 2001
Featuring a youthful Dustin Hoffman, All the Presidents Men is a clever film based on the Watergate scandal that was the undoing of President Nixon in the 1970s. Anyone who is or would like to work in the fast-paced investigative journalist field will be enthrolled with its twists. Junior writers, Woodward and Bernstein, are stylishly portrayed by Redford and Hoffman with the chain-smoking Hoffman putting in a particularly notable performance using his charm to uncover witnesses' most personal secrets. If the film can be criticised - it is unfortunate that it ends without adequately outlining the aftermath of their investigation but I guess that is written in all history books anyhow!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant testimony to the endurance of journalists, 12 Sep 2000
By A Customer
I loved this movie. It is the kind of thriller that has you on the edge of your seat but you don't know why. The plot starts out very small, a minor incident but grows with increasing intensity (the "increasing intensity" is thanks largely to brilliant direction, fluid writing and naturalistic top notch performances) into what is a suprisingly, but not uneffectively a downbeat finale. If you don't love political intrigue movies don't worry, you will after you've seen this. It's one of the few stories of which you now the outcome to but still can't help but get involved. If you liked this movie you will love The Parallax View (1974, The Paper (1993), and maybe even Medium Cool (1969)
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Old & The New, Equals Negative Democracy! By AJ, 8 July 2007
Doesn't it make you wonder how brainwashed we are now, by our politicians and central government?

People actually say to me, corruption can happen inside central government, but never to the scale of a conspiracy theory, that would encompass Oil & Military World Domination, for cash profits to politicians & industrial corporations, and that could have staged 911. What do people actually think, this stuff doesn't happen by chance? It's been going on for well before 1776!

The films ability to track running events and portray the actual story faithfully, along with engaging performances from Hoffman & Redford, can only be the cream topping on the cake! This film should be shown to all in the modern media & anyone interested or studying Politics, just to show this stuff went on in the past, and who knows about the stuff that is still in the closet! Could have our own leader's killed JFK? Secret Government, inside Government, does that ring a bell or two, for you? Or is it, "The Order of The Bell"?

This is a gem of a movie, especially in those days when our press had some balls!

The question you should ask yourself, "What the F*** Happened to Our Press?". Where is our Press Now, & Why is the Media Now, doing the Governments job of spreading untruths? If I could give this movie 10 Stars I would. This movie was scary when it was first released, and it is still even more scary today! Don't just see this movie, buy it, and get the book!

Let me now leave you with a thought. Perception Management = Negative Democracy.

Quote from the film: Take A Look At The Bigger Picture.
Written By AJ. e-mail aj@ajproductions.plus.com
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and unsensational, 13 April 2009
By 
Humpty Dumpty (Wall St, Upton Snodsbury) - See all my reviews
Other people here have covered the political documentary aspects of this.

Judged as a film, I thought it very good indeed. The director AJ Pakula has judged perfectly the degree of detail to present to his cinema-going audience, neither overloading us nor frustrating us with superficiality. That his judgement in this regard seems just right for the viewer thirty years later appears as even more of a feat. Yes, a whole list of names rolls past us and it's not always simple to keep track of their roles, but there's clarity in the presentation of the script, and great tension as the incredible tale unfolds.

Pakula marshalls his large cast with efficiency, assigning just the right length to individual scenes. The script is sharp and delivered with panache by Redford and Hoffman, the two princials, who I thought tread perfectly the fine line between conveying on the one hand flamboyant glee as the size of the story and their part in it unfolds, and on the other hand frustration at the slow drip of discovered information and constant fear that the story might hit the buffers.

Visually, the constant contrast is between the white-lit glare of the Washington Post's newsroom as the truth gradually emerges into the light, and the nocturnal setting of the underground car park used for the rendezvous with Deep Throat and of the many night visits by Redford and Hoffman to interviewees at home. Thus the movie has an effective onward dramatic force from darkness into light.

Almost the last shot of the movie shows a semi-deserted newsroom with a TV running Nixon's inauguration ceremony; and not a soul watching it. The journalists are either ignoring the show or else working to undermine it. Incidentally, the camera angle onto the newsroom in this final scene is a perfect demonstration of the Renaissance-era discovery of single-point perspective, with the ceiling strip lights and side pillars all receding to a black space at the far end of the newsroom. A stunning image, perhaps illustrating the mathematical inevitability of the truth coming out little by little at last.

The movie is recommended as a very superior piece of reportage and also a fine work of cinematic art.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In some ways I do miss the 70's..., 12 Mar 2010
By 
Goran Ekstrom (Stockholm, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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Being from the "Golden Age" of American cinema, this is not only a superb movie but also an important history lesson about a very important part of history. The criminal activities of the Nixon administration is just as likely to take place today. With the present tabloid media tradition the depicition of the "Washington Post" in this movie seems as a romantisized fabrication but we need the media of the 70's today more than ever. This movie should be required viewing for all high school students.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TOE IN THE WATER, 20 Mar 2009
This was a real tentative step for me as I had followed in real time, the Watergate scandal. Although dramatised, it did give a real feel for what was happening at the time. The choice of cast was exceptionally good, although I spent a lot of time thinking that real life photos of Ben Bradlee should look more like Jason Robards. I had read all the books and the newspapers at and of the time and was prepared for some bending of the reality, but nevertheless enjoyed the film immensely. It remains one of my all time favourites which I watch again and again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic., 15 Mar 2009
By 
Terence Wallis (Dorset, UK.) - See all my reviews
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All The President's Men (2 Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [1976]

This is a great film classic. I loved every minute of it when I first saw it years ago. Watching again was as thrilling but does highlight that modern newspapers may not be a courageous as The Post was then.
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