All the President’s Men is hailed for being a movie of great historical significance, integrity in journalism and the power of the honest written word. It is the story of two real life Washington Post investigative journalists, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who slowly uncover details about the Watergate break-in that eventually lead to President Nixon’s resignation. When the break-in first happens, Woodward (Robert Redford) was investigating just to write a typical story about it, but notices oddities. Why would top lawyers be assigned to the defense so quickly? Why are Republican fund raisers linked to this incident? He and more experienced Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) investigate further, to find that many people are afraid to talk. What are they hiding? Could this go all the way up to The White House?
One of the most interesting parts of the film is when Woodward meets with the man with the most information, known then only as Deep Throat. They meet in secret, in the shadows of a parking garage. The anonymous source was the key to finding the truth and exposing the Watergate Scandal with the advice of, “Just follow the money.”
Though the sets my at first seem like an ordinary newspaper office in the early seventies, no detail went unnoticed. About two hundred desks were ordered to match those from the Washington Post’s office and props were even made to look like out of date phonebooks. And I’m sure a lot of meticulous hands went around that sprawling room to make sure every desk is ever so slightly disorganized with papers sticking out here and there. That attention to detail is what won All the President’s Men the award for best art direction.
I hate to rain on this film’s parade, but I found it quite boring. Watergate is old history to my generation and investigative journalism seems more controversial and colorful today than it was thirty years ago. Think of the generation gap like this: back then Nixon’s Watergate was scandalous, but I grew up with Clinton’s Impeachment blown all over the news. He helped us justify a difference between “sexual relations” and “oral sex” at the age of fourteen. How much did your history teacher have to back-peddle over what Nixon said?
If you are interested in the events and reporting of Watergate, the infamous Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein or Deep Throat, I would completely recommend this film for you. If you want a look at journalism in the 1970’s, this is also beneficial; I believe it is still shown to aspiring journalism students. But if Watergate is old news to you and journalism seems a little dry, skip it.
“Howard, they’re hungry. Remember when you were hungry?”