All The President\'s Men

Author: Dr. Mandar V. Bichu

All The President’s Men
Year: 1976
Director: Alan Pakula
Cast: Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Robards Jr.

Anyone who has even a remote interest in world history is unlikely to forget the sensational Watergate scandal in the 1970s, which ultimately resulted in the mid-term resignation of the then US President Richard Nixon. It all started quite innocuously as an apparently botched up burglary at the US Democratic Party’s main head-quarters, which was located in a building complex named Watergate. But as the five ‘burglars’ were produced before the court, strange pieces of information started to emerge. These accused men were being represented by top lawyers; they seemingly had connections with some people high up in Nixon’s administration; they were receiving a secret slush fund created from Republican Party’s Presidential re-election donations and one of the accused men had a CIA background. And most importantly it was not a burglary attempt but a secret wire-tapping operation to gather personal information about senior Democrat leaders, which could be used to tarnish their image in the media.

Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein started investigating this story. Tracing every possible source, tying every loose end, facing doubts from colleagues and competition from rivals, stumbling many times on the way, they finally pieced together the huge jigsaw puzzle. The Watergate scandal was operated from the very top. Even major government agencies were being misused for that purpose. The few honest information sources were all too scared to talk. In addition it was an era of typing on typewriters, talking on landline telephones and researching from library reference books; a far cry from today’s tech-savvy journalism. Despite all these roadblocks and a perceptible threat to their own lives, Woodward and Bernstein showed exceptional persistence, perseverance and intelligence to come up with a solid evidence-backed story that changed the course of history by sending the tainted officials behind bars and making a disgraced President resign.

The journalist duo  owed a lot of their success to a conscientious high-end government source (whom they called ‘Deep Throat’!), who proved to be their main informer and also to their hard-nosed editor Ben Bradlee, who stood behind them in spite of growing pressure and criticism from various quarters.

Wood-Stein (as the journalist duo were popularly known!) did not only unravel the Watergate scandal; they also showed to the world that incisive investigative journalism can take on the mightiest government system and bring the guilty to the book by exposing the excesses of power. Theirs was an inspiring story of victory of freedom of press and democracy.

Robert Redford, the most bankable Hollywood star of the 70s, bought the rights of Woodward-Bernstein’s book and turned their path-breaking story into a stirring film. Meticulously researched, faithfully reconstructed, superbly directed and naturally performed All The President’s Men is an all-time classic featuring Redford as Woodward, Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein and Jason Robards Jr. as Bradlee. This 1976 multiple Oscar-winning film is a must-watch for movie and history buffs. It is interesting, it is intriguing and most importantly it is true to the core. It is not a break-neck speed slam-bang thriller, rather a clever intricate investigative saga, which offers insight into one of the world history’s most sensational political scandals! 

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