Starring Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook, Jason Robards, Jane Alexander, Meredith Baxter, Ned Beatty & Stephen Collins
Directed by Alan J. Pakula
The modern take on the phrase ‘based on a true story’ is something of a revelation. More than ever film-makers are taking to real-world experiences not for the story they tell but for thematic potential they possess. What’s delivered depends on the quality of interpretation. Creators with a firm grasp on these experiences can feed off the source without embellishing the narrative or characterisation. However, which true stories make for good cinema is an impossible guessing game that can only be determined by the time it’s too late to take it all back.
All The President’s Men needs no embellishment. In fact the only alterations from the source material comes out of necessity. Many people played a role in bringing down the United Sates Government, which actually spanned from 1972 to 1974, but it’s all just too damn big to fit into a single film’s run-time. Instead, William Goldman’s script stream-lines events, focusing on everything necessary without dramatisation or gratuitous exclusion (those who don’t appear have their contributions attributed to other, amalgamated representatives) .
At the time of its release the industry was beginning to realise the potential these films could have. Sure, some couldn’t leave well enough alone and recreated events rather than adapting them, but the ones that stayed true are the film’s that had an impact. In wanting to portray real events as realistically as they occurred, the writers and producers of All The President’s Men have created a primary example.
And that’s the best part of it all. Everything you see in this film truly happened. From the Watergate break-in to Bob Woodward’s pot-plant correspondence with the cryptic Deep Throat. It’s because of this realism that the warning Deep Throat gives, telling Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the danger they’re in, is made all the more chilling.
The events that preceded and directly led to the resignation of 37th President Richard Nixon are something out of a mystery or thriller. Inadvertently they’ve influenced the modern true story in cinema. During the time Robert Redford purchased the rights to Woodward and Bernstein’s book true political dramas were all but nonexistent. I doubt that anyone would recognise the splash All The President’s Men would make. Not just in terms of box office success but the lasting impact of everything it represents. Much like the Watergate Scandal, we’re still feeling the ripples today.