All the President’s Men is a political thriller about the two reporters for the Washington Post, Woodward and Bernstein, who blew the Watergate Scandal wide open. Directed by Alan J. Pakula, the film stars Robert Redford as Bob Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein.
Now, I am not one for political thrillers. I do not go out of my way to watch them. And, honestly, had this movie not been on AFI’s list, I probably would have never watched it. And that, my friends, would have been a shame because it is a tremendously gripping film.
The film opens up on the break-in at Watergate. From there, we are thrown right into the newsroom, following Woodward’s every move and then, later, Bernstein’s. The newsroom plays such a big part in helping to create and maintain the chaos and confusion surrounding the story. The constant noise of typewriters and telephones, not to mention everybody always talking over one another; all of this helps to build the tension.
The use of close-ups and deep focus also help to build the tension. The tight frames used around Woodward and Bernstein nearly every time they are on the phone following a lead, trying to get information out of somebody, really helps with the mood of the scenes and the overall mood of the film. The use of deep focus is crazy in this film. Like, comparable to Chinatown crazy. But, using deep focus helps to keep the tone of the film. It shows the chaos in the newsroom happening behind Woodward and Bernstein. It keeps you on edge. It keeps you on your toes.
Generally, knowing how the film ends before ever seeing it tends to ruin it. That, however, is not the case with All the President’s Men. Knowing that these two gentlemen do uncover the Watergate Scandal seems to make it that much more tense. You know that they’re going to do it. You know when they’re really close to figuring it all out. You’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. And, when it does in that typewriting headline montage at the end, man oh man, it is so good.
Honorable mention in this film: Dustin Hoffman’s luscious hair. See below.