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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Connecting the dots, unearthing the plots

All the President's Men (1976) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A helicopter settles softly outside the House of Representatives bringing a happy President Nixon to address the House, Senate, Supreme Court and other high officials. The scene cuts to an extreme close-up of a tele­type machine dating a wire: June 1, 1972. President Nixon has just come back from his historic visit to China opening it to trade. This is BIG NEWS.

Next we move to a nighttime security guard (Frank Wills playing himself) discovering a door mechanism taped open to the Water­gate Building. The police are called who send in an under­cover crew from another op. In clearing the building, they arrest five suspected burglars in the Nt'l Democratic HQ. Their arraign­ment is covered by a newbie reporter for the Washington Post, Bob Wood­ward (Robert Redford). He's only been on the job nine months. His submission is edited by seasoned reporter Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman). This piddling B&E of June 17 doesn't rate any heavier coverage.

However, Woodward's interest is piqued when he notices a slimy big lawyer in the court­room monitoring the out­come, so he teams up with Bernstein to track down leads pointing to the (Republican) Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP). Wood­ward is aided (“Don't you know what you're onto?”) by a highly placed confidential informer dubbed “Deep Throat” (Hal Holbrook). Their dogged persistence will lead them to the highest echelons of power.

The movie ends with newsreel footage of Richard Nixon being sworn in for his second term, cut to some type­writers pounding away at their continuing Water­gate story, until we end up with a wire announcing, "NIXON RESIGNS", the BIG News after all


All the President's men, the whole kit and caboodle, seem to be in cahoots. According to Deep Throat:

The list of the people involved is longer than anyone can imagine. It involves the entire U.S. Intelligence Community. FBICIA … Justice … it's incredible. The cover-up had little to do with the Watergate foul-up. It was mainly to protect the covert operations. It leads everywhere.

Of course everybody is trying to cover his own arse and/or distance himself from any blame, and some were more complicit than others (“This is an honest house.”) Ultimately the king will fall and the publishing house will be vindicated, à la (Prov. 12:7) “The wicked are over­thrown, and are not: but the house of the righteous shall stand.”

Production Values

All the President's Men” (1976) was directed by Alan J. Pakula. Its screenplay was written by William Goldman, based on the first half of the book All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward them­selves. It stars Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford. Their acting was very good achieving a measure of realism. The historical personages were slipped in as news­reel footage. The Washington Post crew was filled out with look-alikes. Robert Walden played Donald Segretti, a young attorney in the White House "plumbers." He alone of the Water­gate principals gets a fleshed out fictional portrayal here.

This film is rated R. It has some salty language in it. It's 138 minutes long. David Shire is responsible for the music, which doesn't start until a half hour into the film and then is dispersed in trickles from Antonio Vivaldi's "Concerto in C for two trumpets." Gordon Willis's photog­raphy is first rate employing a well lit news­room to represent the place of truth, and shadows every­where else. They innovated with a dioptical lens—think bifocals—to capture figures focused in the fore­ground and in the back­ground at the same time, w/fuzziness in between. They'd use a sound bridge to transition between diverse scenes. The sound of type­writers spewing out copy and the constant telephone dialogues added to the veri­simili­tude. They used two crane shots to make the workers look like little ants. The actors memorized both parts of a dialogue so they could talk over each other, both at the same time. By use of skillful editing, this movie rose to the challenge of making paper shuffling look interesting.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

AtPres'M inspired a lot of students to go into Journalism, when it first came out. I suppose it was due to patriotic sentiment and the perceived excitement of the fourth estate keeping govern­ment honest. These days of corporate control might necessitate a more subdued approach to avoid embarrassment, but one can't fault the movie for the changing times since. I enjoyed this one more than I usually do a pseudo- docu­men­tary. It's a solid political thriller and it did win Oscars for Best Sound, Best Art & Set Direction, and Best Adapted Screen­play. The pacing is deadly.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.