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  • Writer's pictureEugene

All the President's Men (1976)

This celebrated 1976 film is about Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s uncovering of the Watergate scandal. It attracted a good size audience despite the cold weather. The conspiracy to cover up abuses of power led to the resignation of President Nixon. Although this was a massive story at the time, one member of the group felt, in comparison with US politics since 2017, that it felt rather tame.


The film did keep us on the edge of the padded RCC seats, despite the story’s complexity at times and there was an undercurrent of fear. Many characters were scared to talk. Woodward and Bernstein, who later won a Pulitzer Prize, took risks with their own lives. You can’t fault Redford and Hoffman’s intense performances, as they go in dogged pursuit of a good story and the truth, helped by Deep Throat’s mysterious interventions.


It was helpful to have some members of the discussion group who had experience of Fleet Street in our midst. The scanning of telephone directories, the sorting through umpteen library record cards and constant door knocking, showed how journalism used to be. We, of course, spotted how male-dominated it all was. As well as the constant smoking. As one member of the group said, “The past is the past.”


Although the film was almost documentary in style, with the newsroom atmosphere seeming very realistic, there was a satisfying panning sequence and a stunning aerial shot in the Library of Congress. When music was used, it was effective. Having been to Washington, the filming gave a true sense of the place.


Our discussion leader reminded us of The Post (a film we’d seen at RCC some years back) about the Pentagon Papers, set in 1971. He also encouraged us to watch Lou Grant, about the city editor of an LA newspaper.  The shorts were greatly appreciated (thanks) and we talked a little about the 42 giant size Presidents’ busts, inspired by Mount Rushmore, which were formerly displayed in a US country park. They are now showing a lot of wear and tear.



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Jan 21
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