All the President’s Men (1976)
Reviewed on 2012 April 14
The armchair pundit says this is the most frightening movie he’s seen, and even if you’re more spooked by four-legged than two-legged monsters — especially two-legged monsters in suits — the implications are disturbing.
Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) is a reporter at the Washington Post who latches onto the Watergate burglary and senses there’s much more to the story than is initially being told. There are links between the committee to re-elect Nixon, and the Watergate goons gunning for information on the Democrats. Few other people seem to read as much into it, except for his office rival, “frenemy” reporter Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman). The men are squabbling over who gets to draw blood over this thing, until editor Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards), probably smelling a huge story here the way a horse smells water on some level but ostensibly tired of the bickering, assigns the new unit of “Woodstein” to both get to the bottom of this.
Woodward and Bernstein soon realize they work amazingly well together, except there’s a problem. Nobody wants to talk about this thing. Differences aside, both men know fear when they see it, and realize their contacts are scared to come forward, perhaps with very good reason.
The movie is a bit lengthy, but that’s okay, and it helps the audience empathize with the cat-herding the reporters suffered. The script and the acting are both good, with a brief appearance by Robert Walden as a very memorable Donald Segretti. I understand it may be harder to feel the full impact of this in an era where G. Gordon Liddy is now doing commercials for gold sellers, but at the time this was pretty scary stuff and it should still induce a case of the creeps today. What struck me watching the DVD last night was how this whole thing may not have blown up had E. Howard Hunt — one of the first people contacted by Woodward — reacted more calmly when Woodward asked him about his ties to the “plumbers”. Had Hunt been a better poker player, history might have been very different.
Four chocolate morsels.