All the President's Men

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All the President's Men

Postby locke » Mon Nov 17, 2008 6:59 am

August 9th, 1974. Nixon resigns.

but what led to that? you probably know it was something called Watergate but what was it?

All the President's Men is the story of two journalists, Bob Woodword and Carl Bernstein, assigned to the case of the Watergate Hotel breakin and through tenacity, luck and a great journalistic nose take on something that unexpectedly and then horrifyingly kept getting bigger than they ever expected.

Follow the money.

In June of 1972, five to six months before the presidential election, five men broke into the watergate hotel and were caught with surveillance equipment. Bob Woodward was at their arraginment and was surprised at both their age and professional dress. He was surprised that there was a big time 'country-club' lawyer there who was 'not representing' the men. And then as the men speak Woodward becomes more and more surprised as they describe their professions as "Anti-communist" and "Security Consultant, retired, to the CIA". It's big, and it keeps getting bigger. Woodward stays on the case until he and Bernstein get stuck. Then he calls a bigtime internal contact in the hopes this guy would set him straight or push him back in the right direction. And the guy responds very suspiciously. The next date Woodward finds a note addressed to him, "never contact me by phone again. if you want to meet, put a red flag in the potted plant on your apartment balcony. If I want to talk to you I'll write instructions on page 20 of your New York Times." This is Deep Throat, and while he refuses to be specific, he tells Woodward things are bigger than he can imagine and offers up the very famous (now) line, "Follow the Money."

All the President's Men is one of the greatest films about journalism ever put together. It's downright thrilling to watch, moves along at a breathtaking pace and features a stunning array of terrific performances. Alan Pakula's direction is outstanding and the cinematography of Gordon Willis (The Godfather films) is breathtaking. The art direction is also incredible, the creation of the Washington Post main floor is simply spectacular on its own, but there are many little touches, like the poster of Kennedy on the wall of the Watergate hotel suite, looking over the shoulder of the republican operatives trying to sabotage the democratic candidate. For all that Zodiac is a good, if flawed, film, All the President's Men is perfection, blowing that film, from a similar time period, out of the water.

You know what the results of the latest Gallup poll are? Half the country's never heard of Watergate, nobody cares about this.

I will admit that I wasn't crazy about the film the first time I saw it. I was somewhat confused by the complexity and detail of the case and often wondered how anyone could keep it straight. I wasn't paying attention in parts and missed how Woodward knew Deep Throat and often didn't understand how each step of their investigation progressed. But this second viewing when I gave the film my undivided attention opened my eyes to how incredibly good the film is. Even though the film assumes some level of familiarity with the material, since it was made only two years after Nixon's resignation, what you need to know is all there in the text of the film. It's every bit as modern a piece of work as an old movie comes, one everyone will enjoy. To a degree the film is about the power of journalism, but it's also about the passion of journalism, and the tenacity of men. While no one else was following up on watergate because the idea that the imploding McGovern campaign needed any sabotaging was incredibly ridiculous, two men found out that common sense expectation did not match up at all to the reality, which in many ways is what the press is supposed to do. And in "keeping them honest" they just happened to cause the crashing and burning of the president just years after the biggest electoral landslide in history.
So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

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