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Alan J. Pakula
Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook, Jason Robards, Jane Alexander, Meredith Baxter, Ned Beatty
Writing Credits:
Carl Bernstein (book), Bob Woodward (book), William Goldman

The most devastating detective story of the century!

In the run-up to the 1972 elections, Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward covers what seems to be a minor break-in at the Democratic Party National headquarters. He is surprised to find top lawyers already on the defence case, and the discovery of names and addresses of Republican fund organisers on the accused further arouses his suspicions. The editor of the Post is prepared to run with the story and assigns Woodward and Carl Bernstein to it. They find the trail leading higher and higher in the Republican Party, and eventually into the White House itself.

Box Office:
$8.5 million.
Domestic Gross
$70.600 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Monaural

Runtime: 139 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 10/30/1997

• Cast and Crew Biographies
• “Casting” Text
• “On Location” Text
• “Who Was Deep Throat?” Text
• “Chronology of Watergate” Text
• Awards Listing


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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All The President's Men (1976)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 20, 2006)

Since we finally learned the identity of Deep Throat in the summer of 2005, interest in the Watergate scandal went through a quick resurgence. Given all the problems experienced by presidents since Nixon, it can be easy to forget what a big deal Watergate was, so it’s interesting to watch the 1976 film adaptation of All the President’s Men for a primer in the subject.

On the evening of June 17 1972, burglars break into the Democratic National Committee offices in the Watergate Hotel. The police apprehend them and the Washington Post sends reporter Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) to cover the story. Fellow journalist Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) smells fresh ink as well, so he horns his way in to the situation as well. At the arraignment, Woodward learns that these are no ordinary crooks, since they have unusually sophisticated backgrounds. They also receive support from high places.

Woodward and Bernstein get stuck together to investigate, and what they find slowly unravels to become more and more intriguing. The film follows their path as they dig deeper into the events and find additional links within the White House.

That’s a simple plot synopsis for a complicated film. To its credit, Men takes a convoluted situation with scads of parties involved and makes it clear. This story easily could have turned confusing, but the movie manages to ensure that we always clearly understand what’s happening despite all the characters and situations.

It helps that Men features a wonderfully cool, understated tone. Even with all the drama onscreen, it avoids the expected melodrama and theatrics. We get a natural “fly on the wall” feeling here, as the film takes on a helpful documentary style. Crisp and subtle, the story unfolds in concise manner.

Although Men features a limited roster of settings, it never becomes weighed down in visual tedium. Face it – this is a movie packed with meetings and phone conversations. Director Alan J. Pakula doesn’t attempt to make these scenes wild or stimulating, and that’s a good thing. Showy stabs at visual flair would seem out of place, so his choice to let the material carry the day is a good one.

Much credit for the film’s success has to go to the excellent cast as well. Redford and Hoffman excel as the leads. Their relationship grows gradually as they get used to each other and start to rub off on each other. There’s no massive bonding here, and they don’t turn into best buddies by the end. Instead, we see a believable sense of respect that emerges via the naturalistic, minimal performances. The actors lack excess emotion or theatrics and instead pull off their roles from the inside.

Tight and intelligent, All the President’s Men really is a film I find it hard to imagine could be made today – or at least made this well. It can be a product of its paranoid times, but that benefits the movie, as it fits the story. This is a concise, involving tale.

The DVD Grades: Picture D/ Audio C-/ Bonus D

All the President’s Men appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Men came from Ye Olden Dayes of DVD and looked like it, as the disc offered a poor transfer.

Very little went right with the image. Sharpness occasionally looked decent, particularly in outdoors shots. Those were the only scenes that almost became highlights. Everything else varied from drab to almost unwatchable. Only rare scenes demonstrated truly poor sharpness, but most looked a bit ill-defined. The movie usually stayed passably concise but that was it, as it generally seemed a little fuzzy. No issues with jagged edges occurred, and I only saw a smidgen of shimmering. However, edge enhancement was a significant concern, as the film suffered from a lot of haloes.

Digital problems popped up through the flick. Watch the opening credits and you’ll see them waver and jitter. Similar issues appeared often. For another example, go to the one-hour, 27-minute and 23-second mark and look at the tree in the background. It shimmered and strobed. The movie consistently suffered from this form of instability, and it also demonstrated a lot of artifacting. The image took on a very grainy appearance due to the poor digital mastering.

Many more concerns stemmed from source flaws. I noticed quite a few examples of specks, marks, grit, blotches, and nicks. Some scenes looked worse than others, but few parts of the movie escaped unscathed.

While I didn’t expect a vivid palette from Men, I thought the colors would look more dynamic than they did. The tones were consistently flat and drab. They tended to seem runny and messy, with little life or range. Blacks were too dark, and shadows followed suit. Low-light shots came across as dense and moderately impenetrable. Put simply, this was a dreadful image.

The film’s monaural soundtrack was better but still had some concerns. Dialogue was a bit thin and brittle but usually remained clear and intelligible. I heard a little edginess at most. Effects were a minor concern in this chatty film. In fact, I find it hard to recall anything more than general ambience. These elements were lackluster but perfectly acceptable given the track’s vintage.

Men also featured very little score. Unfortunately, the rare musical elements didn’t sound very good. They displayed flat highs and heavy bass. Low-end was too prominent and overwhelmed the score. This gave it a muddy sound. I also noticed some interference in my subwoofer, as it occasionally emitted a sputtering hum. Given the movie’s distinct lack of sonic ambition, the audio remained good enough for a “C-“, but it certainly never displayed many positives.

Most 1997 DVDs lacked substantial extras, so I wasn’t surprised to find the minor roster offered on this DVD. All the supplements come from text elements. Cast and Crew provided short biographies of director Alan J. Pakula, screenwriter William Goldman, authors Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, and actors Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook and Jason Robards. Casting digs into a few minor issues connected to the actors and their portrayals, while On Location provides a few tidbits about shooting in DC.

Rendered moot in the summer of 2005, Who Was Deep Throat? looks at that personality and a few possibilities. (To their credit, the authors included Mark Felt on a short list.) The best component, Chronology of Watergate goes through the most significant dates and events. Finally, Awards simply lists the prizes garnered by the film. All of these pieces are perfectly fine, but they don’t tell us a whole lot.

Understated but still dynamic, All the President’s Men holds up well after three decades. The movie benefits from its subtle tone and focuses on the story instead of melodrama or silliness. Unfortunately, this is a terrible DVD. It provides awful picture and audio along with no substantial extras. Despite my admiration for the film, I can’t recommend this dreadful DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7037 Stars Number of Votes: 27
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