All the President’s Men reviewed
All the President’s Men is Alan J. Pakula’s 1976 political drama thriller distributed by Warner Bros. The movie is based on Carl Bernstein’s and Bob Woodward’s book of the same name, and the narrative focuses on the Watergate break-in scandal and the surrounding circumstances that led to President Richard Nixon’s downfall.
The historical significance of All the President’s Men
All the President’s Men is a gem of American cinema, being lauded as one of the most well-crafted and cinematographically sophisticated political movies of all time. The narrative dramatizes a key moment in American presidential history, namely the Watergate scandal, where the aftermath resulted in nothing short of Richard Nixon’s indictment and the arrest of multiple men he rubbed shoulders with.
The movie is based on a book of the same title written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, reporters for The Washington Post. The book is itself a masterful representation of what journalist work can produce. Bernstein and Woodward surgically dissect all the drama surrounding the White House and Nixon’s administration, setting the bar for future generations of journalists exponentially higher and pushing the definition of the free press further and further with each chapter.
A big-screen adaptation of an already successful piece of journalist work and a bestseller tackling a momentous moment in American history, the movie had all the potential to become a masterpiece from the get-go, but Pakula’s keen eye for detail and extraordinary direction ensured it would become a tremendous artistic contribution to the film industry too.
Gordon Willis’s expert camera work, William Goldman’s polished script, and breathtaking performances by Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden, Hal Holbrook, and Jason Robards set the standard for political cinema immediately upon release, and the movie remains highly influential to this day.
The infamous Watergate scandal and a summary of the storyline
Watergate was a political scandal involving the presidency of Richard Nixon from 1972 to 1974. The crux of the scandal was a series of attempts by Nixon’s administration to cover up its involvement in the 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
When the break-in was discovered, several burglars were arrested, and soon, it came to light that the break-in was part of a larger operation which aimed to gather information on the Democratic Party and provide insight into their activities and strategies prior to the 1972 elections.
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward went to utmost lengths to uncover the truth about the incident, working tirelessly to penetrate into the heart of corruption that surrounded Nixon’s presidency. Nixon famously worked with the FBI, CIA, and IRS to silence his opponents, including journalists, which made Bernstein’s and Woodward’s work highly dangerous.
Nixon eventually resigned in 1974, and the involvement of some of his officials led to their indictment and, ultimately, conviction. The scandal had profound consequences on American politics. It challenged the relationship between the public and the media and raised questions about the role of journalism and the ties between different branches of the government.
Key characters in All the President’s Men
The two key characters in Pakula’s movie are Carl Bernstein, played by Dustin Hoffman, and Bob Woodward, played by Robert Redford. The two men work hard under Ben Bradlee, the editor of The Washington Post, played by Jason Robards, who supervises and monitors their work as they dig deeper and deeper into the Watergate fiasco.
Woodward and Bernstein get their information from an anonymous source calling himself Deep Throat. Deep Throat manages to stay anonymous while providing the two journalists with essential info about the scandal, but he was eventually revealed to be the pseudonym of Mark Felt, a law enforcement officer.
Other characters include Richard Nixon, H. R. Haldeman (the Chief of Staff), John Ehrlichman (the Domestic Affairs Advisor), John Mitchell (Attorney General), the bookkeeper (a source played by Jane Alexander), Harry M. Rosenfeld (a news editor played by Jack Warden), Donald Segretti (an attorney played by Robert Walden), and Howard Simons (the managing editor of The Washington Post played by Martin Balsam).
Differences between the movie and the book
Pakula’s movie follows the book fairly accurately most of the time. However, due to the nature of the medium, some events were left out, and some characters were reduced to minor roles. In addition, the movie is much faster in pacing, giving the viewer an illusion that the events took place during a much shorter period of time.
Another essential difference between the book and the movie lies in the genre. While the book is a piece of investigative journalism non-fiction, the movie is not a documentary but a dramatization of the events. Thus, Pakula’s interpretation necessarily carries with it all the characteristics of a drama film and a box office hit coming out of Hollywood.
An overall review of All the President’s Men
All the President’s Men is remembered as a classic of American cinematography. It won several Academy Awards, i.e., Oscars (including Best Picture), and it got several other nominations for BAFTA and Golden Globe awards.
The positive reception was more than warranted. The movie was a powerful combination of suspenseful writing, a recognizable musical score, and real-life relevance that engaged the audience that was still reflecting on a fresh political event of an unprecedented scale. Pakula’s movie thus remains the definitive telling of the Watergate story.
How Speechify Audiobooks can help you enjoy All the President’s Men without reading
If you’re looking to enjoy All the President’s Men but don’t have the time or inclination to sit down and read the book, Speechify Audiobooks could be just the solution you need. With its thrilling narration, you’ll be drawn into the story and feel like you’re right in the middle of the Watergate scandal. But Speechify Audiobooks offers much more than just one book; it has thousands of books across various genres as well as a variety of other political books, including more on the Nixon conspiracy and Watergate scandal, so you’re sure to find many more books that interest you. Sign up for Speechify Audiobooks today and listen to All the President’s Men, a romance read or intriguing sci-fi thriller. Plus, get your first premium audiobook for free.
Why is it called All the President’s Men?
The title is an allusion to a nursery rhyme that goes: “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men / Couldn’t put Humpty together again!”
What is All the President’s Men based on?
It is based on the book of the same title by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. Praising the book, Gene Roberts, the editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The New York Times, called it “the greatest effort at reporting of all time.”
What is the most important part of the movie?
The most important part of the movie is the culmination of all events that led to the final days of Nixon’s administration and Nixon’s resignation.
What are some good quotes from the movie?
Clark MacGregor: “I don’t know. You’re implying that I should know. If you print that, our relationship will be terminated.”
Bob Woodward: “Sir, we don’t have a relationship!”