A fair few friends and fans of cinema in general have said I’d enjoy this movie because of two completely different and unrelated topics. One is that I sort of enjoyed The Post, which was a solid enough Tom Hanks movie that, on reflection, I never want to watch again. The other, and more pressing of the two topics, was that I am at University and studying journalism. By that standard then, I must love films about journalists and journalism, right?
Well, yes, as much as I hate to say it, I love watching movies about the field I wish to work in. Aside from The Post, we also have the incredible Network, the unbelievable Spotlight and the not so bad Frost/Nixon. So where does All the President’s Men rank in this niche and weird piece of cinematic history?
As far as this niche goes, All the President’s Men can pride itself on being a superb and relevant piece of cinema, tackling the true story of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the men responsible for busting the Watergate Scandal. Where The Post failed to involve interesting or relevant characters, All the President’s Men manages to perfectly encapsulate a feeling of comradery between the newsdesks, along with re-telling the important story of how Watergate finally broke.
Possibly the most rewarding aspect of the film is the on-screen chemistry of Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford. Both give such incredible and versatile performances and they blend together in a truly great fashion. It’s lucky that the two have such brilliant chemistry together as it elevates the movie to greater levels that wouldn’t have been possible without impressive lead characters.
What’s most impressive about these two leads is how different they really are. The hot-headed Bernstein (Hoffman) and the cool but careful Woodward (Redford) make for a great on-screen pairing. Scenes with the two rushing to make the final press deadline, along with the struggles of receiving an on-the-record source are so well directed and performed.
Perfectly directed by Alan J. Pakula, All the President’s Men receives a well needed bolstering in its cinematography department. Capturing the tense nature of a newspaper office, along with creating dramatic notions in the lives of Woodward and Bernstein, Pakula’s direction is mesmerising and a truly enjoyable experience.
Even the supporting cast, consisting of Jack Warden, Martin Balsam and Hal Holbrook is enjoyable. Warden especially is great as Harry M. Rosenfeld. If anything, he’s there merely to complement the performances of Redford and Hoffman.
In a horrifying, consumerist world, we could technically count All the President’s Men as a sequel to The Post, given that it picks up right where it left off. Pushing that nightmare to one side for the moment, All the President’s Men is an outstanding piece of film; one that has confirmed the talents of Hoffman and Redford, along with telling one of the most important stories in journalism to date. Biopics often blend reality and fiction to the point of dramatisation, but it doesn’t feel necessary when you’ve got such an interesting story already. A lesson that All the President’s Men takes to heart and flows continuously throughout.