All the President’s Men Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray Review: The Unmaking of the President

Alan J. Pakula’s All the President’s Men tells the story of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) investigation of the Watergate scandal, which eventually led to the resignation of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon. This latest Blu-ray release differs from past versions with the inclusion of the all-new documentary All the President’s Men Revisited, produced by Redford’s Sundance Productions.

Based on the non-fiction book of the same name and ripped from the headlines of four years prior, the film begins with failed burglary of the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters. Still considered the new guy after working only nine months at the Post, Woodward is assigned to cover the court hearing because the editors consider it an inconsequential story. While there, Woodward discovers the burglars have ties to the CIA. This leads Woodward, who is paired with the more experienced Bernstein, on a journey to discover who and how many knew about the burglary. Naturally, the more powerful the people involved, the harder it becomes to discover the truth.

Woodward and Bernstein’s work, along with this film, glamorized the newspaper reporter as it demonstrated the importance of keeping in watchful eye on those who abuse their power. While the story alone is fascinating in its own right, it’s a testament to Pakula’s directing, William Goldman’s script, and the performances that scene after scene of people just talking could result in such a captivating, tension-filled film.

The Blu-ray comes with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 1.85:1. Colors appear in strong, muted hues occasional appearances of bright colors like a red chair in the neutral newsroom. Blacks are strong, and shadow delineation is good, but in poorly lit scenes blacks tend to crush and objects get swallowed up. Very fine detail can be seen in the extreme close-up of paper in a typewriter at the start of the film. A consistent film grain appears throughout. Footage seen on television monitor is expectedly poor.

Dialogue is the predominant element on the English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track and it is always clear and understandable. After the crashing of typewriter keys that open the film, the sound effects recede, offering mild ambiance, which is most notable in the newsroom.

Robert Redford, who led the charge to get the film made, handles the commentary track and is very engaging. As a producer, he has more insight into the different aspects of the production than an actor normally does. He also narrated All the President’s Men Revisited (HD, 88 min), which is available on a separate disc. It retells the story of the investigation and the making of the film with commentary by modern-day political pundits like James Carville, Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough, and Jon Stewart.

Behind the Story, which offers a Play-All (SD, 73 min) option, starts with “Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President’s Men” (28 min). This featurette begins with how Redford brought the story to Hollywood and wanted to add Woodward and Bernstein as characters to the story. He is joined by William Goldman, Dustin Hoffman, cinematographer Gordon Willis, and actress Jane Alexander who offer their memories. “Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire”(18 min) focuses on the reporters who became household names from this one story. Peers such as Walter Cronkite, Linda Ellerbee, and Jonathan Alter join the discussion. “Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat” (16 min) tells how former FBI Deputy Director Mark Felt, who finally revealed his identity on 5/31/2005, worked as Woodward’s anonymous source. “Pressure and the Press: The Making of All the President’s Men“(10 min) is a featurette created during the film’s production. The heading “Extras” is misleading as there’s only there: “5/27/1976 Dinah! With Jason Robards” (SD, 7 min) finds the actor on Dinah Shore’s daytime talk show. Trailer (SD, 3 min) was created after the film’s eight Academy Award nominations, it won four.

All the President’s Men is an important movie about an important time in United States history when the press fulfilled their implicit pact with the public by exposing the crimes of the powerful. The extras on the Blu-ray are well worth exploring and make the disc worth buying.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site.

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