All the President’s Men is one of those rare movies that stand the test of time in both quality and subject matter. Not only is the story fascinating but the components of the film itself top notch from the performances from the stars and supporting actors to the screenplay and direction, it’s just a film that should be seen for its nuances and drama.
Warner Bros. | PG – 138 min. – $34.99 | February 15, 2011
Directed by: Alan J. Pakula
Writer(s): Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward (book); William Goldman (screenplay)
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden, Hal Holbrook, Jason Robards
Theatrical Release Date: April 9, 1976
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 4.75/5
Plot (from back cover): In the Watergate Building, lights go on and five burglars are caught in the act. The night triggered revelations that drove a U.S. President from office, Washington reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) grabbed the story and stayed with it through doubts, denials and discouragement. All the President’s Men is their story.
Beyond the historical elements the film brings – released in 1976, only a few years after the scandal and even before the book for which it’s based upon – the film is a fascinating look at the world of newspapers and investigative reporting. Some might find the film to be tedious because in today’s world you’d have some crazy car chase scene, added in to provide a touch of “excitement” to keep the audience awake supposedly, a couple sex scenes and a lame romantic interest to keep them titillated, and embellishing certain areas to give it that extra punch studios believes a movie needs to be more marketable. The thing is, the story itself be it for the scandal that rises up to the highest position in all the land or the actual investigative techniques to get to that point, it’s a movie that propels itself without a push from the studio.
All the President’s Men is also a courageous production in that, as I mentioned, it was made not too long after the story had broken as Nixon resigned in August 1974 while the movie was released in April of 1976 (filming started in June of ’75). This could’ve been a colossal failure given its reported $8.5 million budget (~$33.5 million today) so it’s no small amount of change starring two big stars for their time in Hoffman (3-time Academy Award nominee) and Redford (nominated for The Sting in 1974). The film would go on to be nominated for 8 awards including Best Picture, Director, Editing, Supporting Actress and winning for Supporting Actor (Jason Robards), Art Direction, Sound and Screenplay (William Goldman). And unlike a lot of award winners I’ve seen over the years, it deserved every one of them… in fact I’m surprised that neither Redford nor Hoffman got nominations.
Overall, while in today’s Hollywood, the writer probably would’ve invented a chase scene or two because the studio felt it was needed to spice it up or a “sex” scene (clothed so it could secure a PG-13 rating) and add some star actress (Rachel McAdams no doubt). Thankfully because it was made not too long after the scandal it had a certain focus to it and thus today is reference material shown to journalist students as it manages to show the tedious and often frustrating work for investigative reporters yet still is interesting enough to keep the audience involved right to the end.
I guess if I had one complaint it would be the very end where they show, over the newswire, what happened in history (all those indicted and convicted and the resignation of Nixon). I think some of it, such as Nixon, could’ve shown via archive footage but I get what Pakula was after in fading out the film with the rising noise of the newswire typing just as the film similarly opened.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4/5
The digibook release comes, of course, with a 35-page book containing colored photos and essays about the impact of the film plus a timeline of the events leading up to and beyond the resignation of Richard Nixon.
All the features have been ported over from the Two-Disc Special Edition so now we get them all on one disc.
Feature Commentary – Star/Producer Robert Redford goes solo and although I wish Dustin Hoffman would’ve been there as well, he does well enough on his own providing insights into how the film came together, talking about the story and about playing his character.
Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President’s Men (28:22; SD) – The featurette, narrated by Hal Holbrook (in fact, all of the featurettes were), features behind-the-scenes footage and new (as of the time of the original DVD release) interviews with members of the cast (Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford), crew and the real people involved talking about the project.
Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire (17:54; SD) focuses on the impact All the President’s Men has had over the years especially in the realm of journalism and those going into journalism school.
Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat (16:21; SD) covers the real informer – Mark Felt – that helped break open the story and has interviews with Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward and others. Of the featurettes, I probably found this to be the most interesting of the bunch.
Pressure and the Press: The Making of All the President’s Men (10:05; SD) is a retrospective featurette made back before I think the film was released.
5/27/1976 Dinah! With Jason Robards (7:10; SD) is an old interview with the film’s co-star on a talk show.
Last up is the theatrical trailer (2:51; SD).
VIDEO – 3.75/5
All the President’s Men is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio (originally 1.85 theatrically) looks pretty good given that its now 35 years old yet at the same time it’s definitely got an abundant amount of noise and grain that doesn’t add too much to the film’s details and, similar to what I saw with the recent You’ve Got Mail Blu-ray release, seems to be a little oversaturated. That said it’s still a good transfer and, compared to the DVD release which I also own, is worth the upgrade.
AUDIO – 2.75/5
While the Mono DTS-HD Master Audio is pretty basic, given the movie is almost all dialogue driven – except for the typewriter sounds to open and close out the film – it’s obviously pretty flat coming only out of the center channel.
OVERALL – 4.5/5
Overall, All the President’s Men is one of those rare movies that stand the test of time in both quality and subject matter. Not only is the story fascinating but the components of the film itself top notch from the performances from the stars and supporting actors to the screenplay and direction, it’s just a film that should be seen for its nuances and drama.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.