By Dan Skip Allen
All the President's Men was a huge success when it came out in 1976. It dealt with the Watergate scandal involving men who broke into the Democratic headquarters in Washington DC in 1972 which led to the downfall, impeachment, and stepping down of then-President Richard Nixon. It's the first film showing the strength of good journalism in this country.
Two young reporters and rivals working for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman), investigate the botched burglary of the Democratic Party Headquarters at the Watergate Apartments. With the help of an insider code-named Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook), this story would rock the country and lead to the downfall of then-President Richard Nixon.
This story would show the strength of investigative journalism in this country. The phrase "follow the money" would be etched in the memories of those who watched this film and lived during the time that this story took place, easily similar to events taking place today in society involving the former President Donald Trump. This story would show how important your sources are in journalism. How you need them to trust you as a journalist. Mark Felt was widely considered to be that source.
Hal Holbrook, widely considered one of the great actors of his generation, had a long and varied career. He was a Tony Award-winning actor for his one-man stage show Mark Twain Tonight in 1954. He has been in a lot of television shows such as Designing Women, NCIS, Sons of Anarchy, North & South, and many more. His film career was just as varied. He of course worked with Alan Pakula on All the President's Men, Steven Spielberg on Lincoln, Oliver Stone on Wall Street, Sydney Pollack on The Firm, and Sean Penn on Into the Wild. He has had a great career by anyone's standards.
Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman were already stars before they got the great roles of Woodward and Bernstein, but this film launched them into the stratosphere. They made themselves become these characters. Most people probably didn't know what these men looked like or sounded like. Their only reference was this film. Both men would go on to have successful careers in journalism after this groundbreaking film. Redford and Hoffman didn't win any Academy Awards for their roles in All the President's Men, but would eventually get Oscars for other films. They owned the screen opposite Jason Robards (Ben Bradlee) and Hal Holbrook.
Hal Holbrook will forever be known as Deep Throat in my mind. And All the President's Men will be indelibly etched in my memory as one of my favorite films in a decade full of great films, the 1970s. It represents that decade perfectly. It was a tumultuous time in our country's history. Pakula, Redford, Hoffman, Robards, Warden, Balsam, and Holbrook will stand out as a great cast in the greatest movie about journalism ever. Movies like Spotlight and Shattered Glass owe everything to All the President's Men that came before them.
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