Thursday April 8, 2010 19:24

Movie #0019 – All the President’s Men (1976)

Posted by Michael

Directed by: Alan J. Pakula
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jason Robards
First Viewing

Synopsis: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein — reporters for the Washington Post — slowly uncover the details behind the Watergate scandal.

Boy, the list is on fire, isn’t it? This was yet another really great film, and one I can’t believe I waited so long to see.

It’s odd — on the surface, it seems like the movie shouldn’t be that great. It’s very long (almost two hours and twenty minutes), and consists entirely of the minutia of Woodward and Bernstein’s (or “Woodstein,” as their editor calls them) investigation. We never learn anything about either Woodward or Bernstein’s personal lives, or at least nothing that we can’t glean from their fastidious investigation. You’d think that the lack of any significant character development would hurt the film, and yet somehow it doesn’t. It helps, I’m sure, that both Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford are great actors, and are at the top of their game here.

It seems like the movie should be dull, but it isn’t. Woodstein spend an inordinate amount of time chasing down leads over the telephone, visiting with people and running into dead end after dead end. Somehow, director Alan J. Pakula manages to make a scene like someone simply talking on the phone surprisingly tense. There’s something really compelling about watching the pieces of the investigation very slowly fall into place.

Pakula’s direction is definitely top-notch, as is Gordon Willis’ cinematography; from the bustling expansiveness of the newsroom, to the dark, shadowy parking lot where the meetings with Deep Throat take place, this is a really visually compelling film. This is, of course, a movie that not only rewards but demands your full attention — with the sheer volume of names and information being constantly thrown at the viewer, it’s easy enough to fall behind. But assuming you’re in the mood for a movie like this, it’s definitely worth your time. The book calls it one of “the most gripping, deft and utterly compelling of thrillers,” which I definitely agree with, despite the absence of any of the elements you might expect from a typical thriller — there are no car chases, no shootouts, and nothing even remotely resembling a typical action scene. There’s just the investigation, and it’s absolutely compelling.

Buy the movie at Amazon

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