All the President's Men
Last year’s revelation that former FBI man Mark Felt was ”Deep Throat,” who helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein expose the nefariousness of the Nixon administration, gives the new Two-Disc Special Edition of the political thriller All the President’s Men a fresh context. The present-day pressure on reporters to reveal confidential sources only adds to the sturdiness and urgency of this film by director Alan J. Pakula and screenwriter William Goldman.
The material is so familiar, we watch with a trigger finger on the remote, ready to skip the dull bits. Instead, All the President’s Men transcends quaintness (look, Ma, they’re using typewriters and rotary phones!) to achieve timelessness. The contrast between Robert Redford’s Woodward, a stolid plodder of a reporter, and Dustin Hoffman’s Bernstein, a jittery hot-dogger, is the stuff of classic movie team-ups. Jason Robards, an Oscar winner as growly Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, reigns in his two newshounds admirably.
In one of the DVD’s interviews, Hoffman credits Redford with a canny idea — that they memorize not just their own but each other’s lines as well, so they could finish each other’s sentences, interrupt and improvise. Hoffman also admits that when Pakula (who died in 1998) asked him if he had any special requests, Dustin had but one: ”Make me look handsomer than Bob,” he implored.
At two-plus hours, the movie zips right along. The second disc of numerous featurettes contains too many talking-head maunderings (shush, Jonathan Alter) about the Role of the Press. Still, this is a dandy package. ”More Scandal Inside!” screams the DVD cover. That’s malarkey: More pleasure — more revelations, more inspiration — is more like it.