Hail to the Chiefs of Journalism – A review of All the President’s Men (1976)

by Cesidia on June 20, 2012

thumbnailIn honor of the 40th anniversary of Watergate, I thought what better movie to pick this week than All The President’s Men, the movie based on the real account of two famous journalists, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, and their secret source Deep Throat’s quest to uncover the scandal that rocked Richard Nixon’s presidency.

The first time I saw this movie was in high school. I was taking a journalism class and we were covering how to write a movie review. Killing two birds with one stone, we watched this movie to learn about investigative journalism and then wrote a review about. Most interesting for me was the fact that before I saw the movie I already new who the real “Deep Throat” was. It had only been a year since he revealed his true identity and people had gone for years knowing the scandal and seeing the movie and wondering Deep Throat’s true identity. I’m sure people had their suspicions but sometimes I wonder. If he had died before he told us, do you think Woodward and Bernstein would ever have released his name?

For the most part this review is new, but I pulled up my old assignment and incorporated what I saw as a high school junior almost 2 years ago (weird). Anyways, I love this movie for two reasons. The first is I love movies based on historical events. The other is I love it’s about journalism. Being an aspiring news reporter, I love that this movie is really all about the power of news. In fact an aspiring journalist could learn a lot from these two. They show how to interview, how to piece everything together, and most importantly, even if things are looking down, how they don’t ever give up.

I love that even the very beginning of the movie grabs your attention. The movie is both introduced and concluded with the constant click-clacking of the typewriter keys being pressed down to create the white letters on the black scene. And this sound is anything but quiet; everything is silent save for the typewriter, only projecting the sound to be even louder than it already is. And just as in the beginning the story wraps up with an epilogue of future headlines being typed up. And once again the noise is very loud giving a lasting impression, and a lasting headache.

I thought the movie was awesome. Being a fan of mystery type movies, I felt drawn to watch to see what happens. I got frustrated when they seemed door-slamming-in-your-face stuck, excited when they were on to something, and thrilled when they figured something out and got it right. Even though you know how its going to end you don’t know how they get from point A to point B.

With a budget of $5 million, the quality of the movie seems quite real. The remake of the headquarters of the Washington Post is quite amazing. It looks authentic with all the desks, the people, the papers and the clutter. The set designers really captured what they needed here. If someone would walk into a newspaper agency – at least one in the 1970’s – I’m sure it would be very similar to the one in the movie. Not only are the sets done well, but the filming is too. The best scene occurs when the two visit the Library of Congress. The camera takes a topographic shot that slowly widens, making the two smaller and smaller. This shot really emphasizes the greatness of the task at hand. The costumes, the hairstyles and the aura of the 70’s were very well portrayed in this movie.

Overall, the movie was very well done. The acting seemed real, and the plot line was very intriguing regardless of how much you knew about the scandal before seeing it. It constantly keeps you guessing about what’s going to happen next and where that specific detail might lead them. By doing this is also actively portrays what being a journalist is all about, making this movie not only interesting to watch, but educational. For someone who wants a job in journalism, this movie would be great for them because it really portrays what the job entails. But it’s not just limited to journalists; it could expand to detectives, or even scientists. This movie teaches someone what to do when they are given a bunch of puzzle pieces and are asked to fit them together to make a story.

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