Follow the money
Is the phrase, master screenwriter William Goldman attributed to Deep Throat (aka Mark Felt), the informant who took part in revealing the truth behind the June 1972 Watergate break-in in the superb 1976 political thriller All The President’s Men, although the phrase did not appear in the book or in any of the Watergate documentation.
The film covers the first seven months of the Watergate scandal with The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) investigating the Watergate break-in and the events that unfurled culminating in the film’s climax with Woodward and Bernstein typing the full story, whilst a television in the newsroom shows Nixon taking the oath of office for his second term as POTUS in January 1973.
I was drawn to writing about this film after watching it again on my recent flight back from NZ and it struck me that the journalism depicting in the film was driven by curiosity and news sense whereas today journalism is now almost totally corrupted by left-wing ideology where the profession is no longer curious about anything which given the events across the world for the last 10 years beggars belief.
It would be quite easy to get waylaid by recent and current events, especially in the USA, which is not the purpose of this review but instead it is to focus on the outstanding quality of this film.
The film was directed by Alan J. Pakula, and was the third film of his paranoia trilogy, which included Klute (1971) and The Parallax View (1974). All three display his hallmark understated delivery and I was considering devoting a post on the trilogy but I simply couldn’t stand having to write about Jane Fonda, a woman I absolutely detest, although she arguably gave her best movie performance in Klute.
The Parallax View is certainly worth catching again as it’s a very under-stated, although downbeat thriller starring Warren Beatty as a reporter investigating into a secretive organisation, whose primary focus is political assassination.
But back to All The President’s Men, this is a wholly absorbing film where the craft in its making is simply impeccable. From the sets of The Washington Post’s news room to the performances of a terrific cast, the film effortlessly depicts the complex details which the viewer can follow with comfort.
Both Redford and Hoffman were utterly convincing as the two reporters, with Martin Balsam and Jack Warden proving excellent support as their editors; plus Jason Robards was fully deserving of his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as Ben Bradlee, the managing editor of The Washington Post.
Back in 1976, Rocky won the Best Picture Oscar when both All The President’s Men and Network were nominated. Now I enjoyed Rocky as an escapist entertainment but in terms of film quality it pales into insignificance against either All The President’s Men or Network. I guess the Academy were fwits even then.
All The President’s Men provides the most observant study of working journalists we’re ever likely to see in a feature film; and it succeeds brilliantly in suggesting the mixture of exhilaration, paranoia, self-doubt, and courage that permeated The Washington Post as its two young reporters went after a presidency.
and the tease for next weeks post . . . Star of stage, screen and alimony.