Politics, government, and the news are fascinating to me. The older I get, the more I want to know and understand. I listen to credible news sites daily. I read the newspaper and subscribe to several news apps online. I wouldn’t consider myself a “news junkie.” I have been around “ those people.” I greatly desire to learn from our country’s triumphs and mistakes as I age. It is the only way our society can become stronger and more enlightened. I wasn’t this interested in news events when I was younger. I used to let them roll off me daily. I didn’t have the time to be concerned. In my naive youth, I was invested more in my career and what was happening in my small, limiting community. Silly me. I wish I had known better than just marching and protesting for different causes. I should have stood up to ignorance more often. I could have said and done more. Isn’t that the cry of so many at the end of their lives? What do we stand for in this crazy, divided world? Where is our red line of “enough?” When do we cry aloud, “This is not right, cool, or moral?” When do we stop fearing the consequences of choosing decency, honesty, facts, and truth? When do we become role models for future generations? History will judge all of us one day. What was hidden and silenced will be heard just like the world listened as two young Washington Post reporters investigated and printed the facts to read and see in ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN was first heard around the world in 1976. This is just two years after Richard Nixon resigned as President. It was bold beyond compare. Warner Brothers did not want to make this movie unless Robert Redford took one of the leads. He had acquired the rights to Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s book a few years earlier. Redford knew he had to have a huge name actor to stand beside him. Dustin Hoffman was just that actor. Both spent months hanging out at the Washington Post newsroom to ensure they got it right. They obviously did. Four Oscars were awarded to ATPM for Best Art Direction, (Set Design) Sound, Writing, and Supporting Actor. (Jason Robards)
The story includes all that went on to uncover one of the biggest cover-ups in political history. It was not so much about the break-in at The Watergate Hotel but more about how Carl and Bob got to the truth. It shared the inner workings of toppling a government to the highest tier with just the power of words and facts. It is true that “words are mightier than the sword.” The film showcased the meticulous details of getting to the truth by double and triple checking their sources, getting the collaboration of more than one person, and highlighting courage and tenacity. It is a true masterpiece of journalistic integrity and perseverance. This movie is still shown in journalism schools across our country.
Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman had so much chemistry between their characters. They would memorize both parts of their dialogues together to talk naturally, quickly, and over each other, as is often the case when chasing down leads. They knew exactly where they were and never lost their train of thought. This was especially evident when it only took one take to film a heated conversation. Witnessing the caliber of their combined talent is such an actor’s treat. Students don’t need to pay money for a Master Class in Acting. Just watch Dustin and Robert in action.
One of the shadiest parts in ATPM must be Hal Holbrook as “Deep Throat.” This part was only filmed in a dark, shadowed garage. Audiences could never see his entire face. This was intentional since Deep Throat was the snitch who guided the investigation. The phrase “Follow the money” originated in ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. The name of this character was taken from Linda Lovelace’s porno movie a few years earlier. Hal didn’t think anyone would care about his character. Not a chance. It was the most remembered member of the ensemble.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN had a definitive sound to it. The clacking of the typewriters getting louder and louder, and the teletype machine at the last seconds clacking out the final moments of Nixon’s Presidency and demise. It was hypnotic. Withholding the musical score for 28 minutes into the movie was sheer brilliance. All these techniques placed viewers inside the story and the newsroom.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN is memorable and entertaining. It was filmed with such dramatic precision and care. It is a “cautionary tale,” yet told by honorable men. It is not an easy film to watch because it is about a dark, dishonest moment. Our country cannot afford to repeat this political debacle. At times, I believe we are almost “there.” Then I remind myself about this timeless journalistic classic and the power of “everyman.” Happy 4th America.
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN is available to stream on TCM.