Usually there is a tell in the title of each blog, but we changed this one after we started. Originally titled in “Oh Brother” we Trust; however, we were concerned people might think this was religious or like The Beatles we were trying to say we were more popular than Jesus. Of course, one peak at our YouTube followers would put that to rest. Please smash that like button and subscribe to our channel.
No, today is Election Day and as of this writing people are in line casting their votes doing their civic duty. Since this is being called the election of our lifetime, we thought it would be a good time to look at one of the great political thrillers of all time actually really based on a true story All the President’s Men.
Although most people believe this movie is about the Nixon administration, it’s as much about journalism as it is about politics. One criticism some people have of the film is it can sometimes get bogged down in a series of names, dates, leads, denials, and pounding the pavement. This is a valid criticism with several names and dates spilling out throughout the movie, but the end result is an accurate account of history and some of the most infamous names to work in a presidential administration.
Even though the viewer knows how the story ends the thrill is how we get there. The story begins with two young journalists at the Washington Post Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman respectively following a local story about a minor break in at the now infamous Watergate hotel, which was home to the head of the Democratic national committee.
As the two journalists follow leads by interviewing secretaries and bookkeepers, they start to realize by the reactions of the people they interview they may be swimming in deeper water than merely a local story. As their boss at the Post seems to be constantly barking at them to get more sources, “Woodstein” as the duo was known around the office, keep the story mostly to themselves knowing they are getting higher and higher up in the presidential administration.
Looking back on the Watergate scandal the two journalists really got lucky when contacted by a member inside the administration known in the story as “deepthroat”. An insider played by Hal Holbrook who guided the pair by dropping hints and sometimes making them work for the information likely trying to keep his own identity hidden from those within the administration. For years after the story broke, after the historic Presidential resignation, and to this day Woodward and Bernstein never named their secret source known as deep throat. Many thought it was likely not just one person, but a combination of several feeding them inside information. In 2005, over a decade after Nixon’s death former FBI member Mark Felt came forward as the source who ultimately gave the reporters the key to tie everything together.
This is a long movie, but director Alan Pakula keeps the pace moving and doesn’t get mired in facts, figures, and minor characters which must have been slow grueling work for Woodward and Bernstein.
Because of the pace and great performances, especially by the two leads Redford and Hoffman, the movie flows well and even though you know the outcome the tension throughout is palpable. With today’s political divide in America, this is a great time to put in All the President’s Men to see just how much has changed since the only resignation in American history resulting from a petty theft of $2,300. History used to teach us it’s not the crime, but the cover up. Today seems to be more about covering up than the crime.