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on 12 March 2004
- 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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on 13 January 2008
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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on 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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on 3 April 2006
- 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 only recently-revealed, profoundly clandestine 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/smear campaign 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 [mess] 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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 September 2003
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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on 27 October 2014
This is a masterpiece. The directing is superb and the central characters are just excellent. The whole Watergate episode was such a stain and the persistence of Woodward and Bernstein together with the trust and judgement of Ben Bradlee is perfectly portrayed by Redford, Hoffman and Robards. It is a complex tale so no nodding off in this. It is brilliant
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on 17 September 2015
I showed this movie when it was first released many years ago when I was a projectionist in central London, it always stuck in my mind and I am very glad that it has now been released on Blu-ray.
Both picture and sound are excellent on this transfer and it is well worth the price.
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on 16 February 2016
All the President's Men is probably Pakula's all around finest film - the Blu-Ray includes:
- Exclusive to this release: All the President's Men Revisited - documentary (HD 1:27:46)
- Commentary by Robert Redford
- Behind the Story (SD; 1:12:44) a feature length documentary that goes into great depth about the actual Watergate story itself
(including real life Woodward and Bernstein), as well as the film.
This section includes the vintage featurette Pressure and the Press: The Making of 'All the President's Men'.
- Dinah! with Jason Robards (SD; 7:12), again like Network's own Dinah! snippet, offers the songstress in her talkshow mode
interviewing co-star Jason Robards.
Highly Recommended
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on 6 August 2016
Other reviewers have given a detailed description of the film, so there is nothing I can usefully add, apart from giving it the highest recommendation. Some information about the extras may be useful however. I found the most interesting to be Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President's Men on the main disc and All The President's Men Revisited, a full length documentary on the second disc. There is some overlap between them, but they are essentially complementary.
The first of these gives a detailed picture of the gestation of the film and in particular the crucial role played by Redford, who was involved even before the book on which it is based was written. There are interviews with everyone involved, including Woodward and Bernstein. The film stops at the point where they had done the main part of their detective work and the remaining part of the story is shown only in a series of teleprinter messages.
The film came out only two years after the events it describes, when were still fresh in peoples' memory, but for those coming to it for the first time "All The President's Men Revisited" fleshes out its sketchy picture of later events and gives us the full story up to Nixon's resignation. There are also a number of other extras, but these tend to cover much of the same ground, and are therefore less interesting.
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on 10 May 2007
This movie satisfies on many levels. Both Redford and Hoffman are fantastic in their portrayal of Bob Woodward and Karl Bernstein of the Washington Post, who single-handedly brought down the reign of Richard Nixon after investigating Watergate and the surrounding issues in the mid 1970's. The film was shot in a real newspaper building, which adds authenticity.

For anyone who is interested, or works in any form of journalism, seeing the workings of a newspaper before the Internet and any form of personal computing will be insightful. All they have is typewriters, short-hand and persistent interview techniques. The way Woodward and Bernstein put the story together and make progress amid adversity is compelling viewing, and a nice presentation of old-style journalism. I guarantee you that you won't dare turn this off from start to finish.

From start to finish this journey shows off the way reporters work, the way reporters work in this case, and showcases the story that Woodward and Bernstein worked so hard to be able to tell.

This film is excellent, and a definately for any age and any collection.
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