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All the President's Men (1976)

tomatometer

98

Average Rating: 9.1/10
Reviews Counted: 46
Fresh: 45 | Rotten: 1

A taut, solidly acted paean to the benefits of a free press and the dangers of unchecked power, made all the more effective by its origins in real-life events.

100

Average Rating: 8.8/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 0

A taut, solidly acted paean to the benefits of a free press and the dangers of unchecked power, made all the more effective by its origins in real-life events.

audience

92

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 48,428

My Rating

Movie Info

Conspiracy film specialist Alan J. Pakula turned journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's best-selling account of their Watergate investigation into one of the hit films of Bicentennial year 1976. While researching a story about a botched 1972 burglary of Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate apartment complex, green Washington Post reporters/rivals Woodward (Robert Redford, who also exec produced) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) stumble on a possible connection between the burglars

PG,

Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics

William Goldman

Oct 30, 1997

Warner Home Video

Watch It Now

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All Critics (46) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (1) | DVD (19)

The movie is a victory lap for American journalism -- the triumphant flip side to Network's self-loathing take on the media.

February 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hal Holbrook is outstanding; this actor, herein in near-total shadow, is as compelling as he is in virtually every role played.

August 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Remarkably intelligent, working both as an effective thriller (even though we know the outcome of their investigations) and as a virtually abstract charting of the dark corridors of corruption and power.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It provides the most observant study of working journalists we're ever likely to see in a feature film.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comment (1)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A spellbinding detective story.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This superb film has long been acknowledged as a classic political thriller, but watching it in today's climate, at a point when a timid and ineffectual media is par for the course, also reveals its increasingly significant value as a time capsule piece.

April 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

The effect of All the President's Men is not to make Watergate more real but to make it more remote.

February 12, 2013 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

The world is beyond saving, it says. It's one of the last great films of its era that has anyone who thinks it deserves saving.

October 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

As smart and cautionary now as it was in the '70s.

February 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A finer political film you will not find. It should be declared a national treasure.

June 9, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Superb Woodward and Bernstein Watergate story.

September 9, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

All the Presidents Men is a thinking man's political thriller featuring two crusading journalists working their story, consistently following clues and interviewing various sources (and would be sources) in their quest for the truth.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

It really couldn't be better made in any respect. The cinematography, sound, editing, acting - all of them are effectively flawless.

October 8, 2009 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Features a host of fine character portrayals and a compelling climax that compensates for its length.

August 22, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

A triumph of serious Hollywood filmmaking.

August 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Além de contribuir como registro histórico e reflexão sobre a mídia e a ética, é, também, um magnífico exemplar do melhor do Cinema.

November 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

Alan Pakula's chronicle of the Washington Post Vs. the Watergate scandal is not only a poignant statement about the role of the press in the 1970s, but one of the most successful political movies in American history, both artistically and commercially.

July 27, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

...not only a thoroughly gripping, real-life political thriller, it's darned good filmmaking, too.

February 7, 2006 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

A classic. More important now than it was 20 years ago.

July 25, 2005
Juicy Cerebellum

A classic and factual American detective tale in need of remake now that Deep Throat is known. Maybe Adam Sandler could star?

May 31, 2005
Video-Reviewmaster.com

A terrific entertainment

May 24, 2005

Still the best movie ever made about journalism

April 22, 2005
Lawrence Journal-World

Audience Reviews for All the President's Men

"The most devastating detective story of this century."

Reporters Woodward and Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon's resignation.

REVIEW
Alan J. Pakula's seminal political thriller which relates the scandalous Watergate affair from the relentless investigation two journalists Woodward (Robert Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) undertook. They had flair, used their reasoning and deduction faculties in a stalwart way without giving in too much to discouragement to reconstitute with tenacity and accuracy this scandal which will lead to the resignation of Nixon. All this throughout countless phone calls, conversations with witnesses who were however often reluctant to talk, intensive researches. More than half of the movie occurs in the editorial office and not only has Pakula a sense of space to make this place bright but also to captivate the viewer's attention while the two journalists pore over their research and discoveries.

Technically speaking, his film commands admiration and respect: helped by the topnotch work of his DP Gordon Willis, his camera work shines throughout the work which is also scattered by first-class sequences. The very last one of course and one of my favorites is the following one: when Hoffman goes to Redford's apartment to inform him of his new discoveries, the latter turns up the music very loud, then he begins to type on the typewriter and incites his companion to communicate through this scheme because there are mikes in the room. An ingenious way to eschew one trap their enemies set. Because all the ones who were involved in this affair try to hush it up. An affair painstakingly reconstituted as well as a documentary about the American press's work methods, a faultless directing, a visual, technical splendor and a topflight performance, what more could you ask for from a cracker that can stand (or rather) encourages multiple viewings?
September 24, 2012
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

This is the story of a couple of journalists for the Washington Post named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who, in the wake of a break in at the Watergate Hotel, stumble upon a deep and major conspiracy that eventually led to the first ever resignation of a U.S. President. It's a compelling and fascinating story, made even more potent, compelling, and biting by the fact that it's all true.

This films gets all kinds of (deserved) accliam, but I must be honest and say that this is a difficult film. You have to be able to sit through something that is both lengthy and deliberately paced, and is more about plot, dialogue, and atmosphere that is heavy on suspense, yet light on visceral action and payoffs. For the most part, I was able to sit through it just fine. I did start to get antsy, but the film never really fully lost my attention or pushed me to the breaking point.

It takes a lot of talent to make a film that is mostly people taking notes, typing, and talking (usually on phones) watchable and interesting, and that's the case here. Again, it helps that this film is about a real event, making it relatable to audiences (especially those who sawe it when it came out). It''s not really all that dated though, at least not in a bad or even kitschy way. It's a love letter to patience, determination, investigative journalism, and following a story, even if the odds seem overwhelming and the outlook grim.

The art direction is pitch perfect, and the way the films shows the workings of a 70s newsroom is awesome, or at least I thought so. I want more movies like this that have a high sense of realism in capturing a workplace. The conematography by Gordon Willis is absolutely brilliant, and everything comes alive thanks to some excellent use of shadows and light, nice framing, and effectively employed camera angles. Aside form the actors, it's the real star of the show...and speaking of stars: Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein and Robert Redford as Bob Woodward? Perfect. The two have great chemistry together, and a real sense of comraderie, even though they aren't best friends or have the same views, opinions, and beliefs. Woodward is less experienced, but still very determined, even if self involved. Bernstein is more experienced, but sometiimes a bit too sharp for his own good. The performances are wonderful though, and perfectly embody these characters. Jason Robards shines as their boss Ben Bradlee, and Hal Holbrook is quite great as Deep Throat- the key information provider to Woodward who managed to remain anonymous until 2005.

It's no secret (to a lot of people) that I have a love for the 70s and 70s cinema that might be a little detrimental on my judgment. However, this is still an excelelnt film, and remains the high water mark for films about journalism. It's an important film that not only does a great job of capturing the investigation into one of the most notable events in 20th Century American history, but also works as a great cultural and historical tool, providing insight into the time period (both that it portrays and the one it was made in). As I said, this is a hard one to endure, but if you have the fortitude, it's profoundly rewarding.
December 27, 2011
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

1976 saw the release of two great films about journalism which remain gripping and compelling even though the professions they examined have long since changed dramatically. In one corner, we have Network, a film which anticipated the move towards ratings-driven TV news with a career-best performance from Peter Finch. In the other corner, we have All The President's Men, perhaps the greatest film ever made about print journalism and one of the all-time greatest thrillers.

The first miracle of All The President's Men is that it manages to be a superbly tense conspiracy thriller even though we already know what the conspiracy is. Films which attempt to capture the political or social zeitgeist (in this case the fall of Richard Nixon) either date very badly or are often found wanting dramatically; they presume that there is no need to do the legwork, since we know how it ends even before we start.

All The President's Men gets the balance absolutely pitch-perfect between the facts and the drama. Robert Redford, who also produced the film, insisted that everything that played out on screen was factually accurate, to the point of liaising between screenwriter William Goldman and the real-life journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to ensure that every detail was correct. Those of us who are knowledgeable about Nixon and Watergate can watch the film and admire how well all the pieces fit together and all the facts are checked, while those less familiar will soak up all the information, admiring the work of the journalists and the screenwriter, who conveys all the twists, turns and dead ends.

Being this factually accurate pays off in dramatic terms for two reasons. Firstly, it means that the film's political stance, if it has one, is not so blatantly obvious that it weighs the action down, as with Redford's Lions for Lambs. But more importantly, it demonstrates that the filmmakers have confidence in the material, believing the truth to be so extraordinary in its own right that to dress it up in Hollywood convention or other such artifice would do the audience a great disservice.

Because the film is so relentlessly focussed on the story, the audience become like junior reporters following Woodward and Bernstein around, desperately trying to keep up and learn on the job. Like real-life journalists we are receiving information from a range of sources with varying degrees of reliability, to the point at which we almost feel the need to take notes. The dialogue is rattled off at a pace which makes even The Social Network look choreographed and considered.

Unlike so many contemporary thrillers, All The President's Men manages to be so completely understated, keeping a lid on things and building tension throughout its running time. All of the big revelations come out through small tics in the dialogue; there are no great swathes of exposition to remind the audience what has happened so far. It takes us two hours to get to Deep Throat finally telling Woodward what he wants to hear in the car park; like Woodward, we have had to earn this information through patience and perseverance.

The sense of tension created by the revelation of events and the pressure on the characters means that the film has no real need for action set-pieces or choreographed thrills. The closest things approaching action sequences are little pops of paranoia surrounding Woodward in the last hour - the disturbance in the car park, or the two journalists typing out their conversations for fear that they are being bugged. That's not to say that set-pieces in themselves are a bad thing, or a sign of dumbing-down in Hollywood movie-making. But All The President's Men simply doesn't need them - it does things the hard way, which turns out to be the smart way and the right way.

It would be very easy to praise this film on purely nostalgic grounds, coming from a time when thrillers didn't have to end with explosions, and when there was 'proper' investigative journalism instead of commercially-minded, celebrity-saturated hearsay. But the makers of All The President's Men would not accept this rose-tinted view of journalism, and the film specifically warns not to take such days for granted. Long before Rupert Murdoch's empire-building, the conflict between money and the truth was present, and crucially the truth didn't always win hands down.

There are several arguments in the film about the freedom of the press and its independence from the state and government. This conflict is present in the initial disagreements between Woodward and Bernstein which govern their different styles of reporting. Woodward is the newcomer who believes in facts above everything else; he types up his article, only for Bernstein, the seasoned hack who likes something with flair, to polish it behind his back.

In one scene about halfway through, the two reporters are in a car arguing about the difference between fact and gut instinct. Woodward use the example of snow falling overnight, or a man stopping and asking for directions, to demonstrate that one cannot simply rely on logical presumptions to be sure that something happened. Bernstein's responses, while broadly in agreement, belie a disagreement between substance and style, graft and guesswork which would come to shape the industry.

As a paean to 'proper' journalism, the film is a lot more subtle than something like Good Night and Good Luck, which used stock footage of Joseph McCarthy to hammer its point home in every scene. And unlike George Clooney's film, All The President's Men does a brilliant job of showing the fear and intimidation involved in the profession and practice of journalism. This is present throughout Woodward and Bernstein's work, from the persistent refusal of people to go on the record, to the pressure coming from their bosses who are staking the reputation of their paper on what could be an entirely spurious story. Woodward and Bernstein are forced to balance their own personal ambitions within the paper, the desire to protect people from exposure and ruin and the need to tell the truth - something which is no easy task.

All The President's Men is also masterful at making the very act of writing exciting. As I mentioned in my review of Adaptation, it is very difficult to put the physical act of writing or typing on screen in a manner which is genuinely cinematic. But Alan J. Pakula achieves this in his directorial style, which is completely unfussy and marked by great attention to detail. So accomplished is his direction that you almost don't notice it, which might explain why he is so underrated as a filmmaker. The tension he builds makes one focus on all the random doodles on Woodward's notepad, and the typing scene is very well-paced.

The performances in All The President's Men are all front-page material. Robert Redford is great, proving that he was more than just the pretty face from Butch Cassidy and The Sting and carrying himself with poise and conviction. Dustin Hoffman gives some of his best work as Carl Bernstein, resisting the temptation to 'over-method' as he did in Marathon Man the same year. And there is a terrific supporting role for Hal Holbrook as Deep Throat. Holbrook, best known for his appearance in The Fog, brings a murky edge to the character which not only conveys the danger of his situation, but leads you to believe that he is no good either.

All The President's Men is a proper thinking-person's thriller with great direction, superb performances and an impeccable script. Though the worlds of both politics and journalism may have changed, the film's ideas and approach remain as fresh and bracing as they were 35 years ago. Whether as a paean to journalism or an argument for political accountability, a debate about the nature of truth or a thrill-a-minute drama, it succeeds on every conceivable level, resulting in a movie for the ages.
May 14, 2011
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

Based on the investigation by two Washington Post reporters that uncovered the Watergate scandal and toppled Richard Nixon's presidency, All The President's Men is an insight into the events surrounding probably THE most important event concerning modern American democracy. Redford and Hoffman make an extremely likeable pairing and it's really interesting to see the nuts and bolts of the puzzle falling into place to reveal the larger picture. Because it's the true life story of the reporting process, the film is basically just a series of interviews and phone conversations and so can seem a little dry, especially considering its 2+ hour length but anyone interested in politics will be fascinated. Unfortunately, given the choice between a story involving the fundamental subversion of democracy by a corrupt government and the latest gossip on who "R-Patz" is screwing, I think we all know what would end up on the front page these days...
February 2, 2011
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

    1. Deep Throat: Get out your notebook, there's more. Your lives are in danger.
    – Submitted by Adam K (18 months ago)
    1. Deep Throat: The list is longer than anyone can imagine. It involves the entire US intelligence community. FBI, CIA, Justice, it's incredible.
    – Submitted by Adam K (18 months ago)
    1. Bob Woodward: Listen I'm tired of your chicken shit games! I don't want hints, I need to know what you know.
    – Submitted by Adam K (18 months ago)
    1. Deep Throat: Follow the money.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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