“All the President’s Men” – Classic Film Reviews #2

“All the President’s Men” was directed by Alan J. Pakula and was written by the legendary William Goldman, who wrote such classics as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” a film that I love. It stars Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, who both are brilliant actors. “All the President’s Men” is about the true story of the two reporters who uncovered and wrote about the story behind the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post. This movie is widely considered to be a masterful political thriller and it is even rated as the 77th best American movie of all time by the American Film Institute. However, I found this movie to be a little disappointing, which was surprising considering the talent behind and in front of the camera. I feel that the stars have been in better projects, and William Goldman has written better films. I still enjoyed the film, but it is a bit overrated.

I’ll start this review with the positive aspects of the film, the first being the directing. Alan J. Pakula was an absolute master. He directed the movie in such an intense way, and he made simple scenes like a conversation in a parking garage or Robert Redford’s character writing down notes enthralling. Pakula enhanced the script due to his strong direction, and he rightfully got an Oscar nomination for this movie. Also, all of the actors were on point; Hoffman and especially Redford gave fantastic performances. They didn’t overact in the roles like other actors might have, and they seemed like real reporters. I bought that they were desperate reporters trying to uncover the Watergate scandal. Another aspect of the film that I liked was the cinematography; almost all of the shots were extremely original and gorgeous. There were beautiful shots of Washington D.C., unique P.O.V.’s of typewriters, and amazing wide shots with everything in focus, like an Akira Kurosawa film.

The film’s largest problem was its pacing. The first thirty minutes were compelling and moved fast, but then the rest of the film (except for the last fifteen minutes) sometimes moved as fast as a tortoise. The movie wasn’t so boring that it was a challenge to sit through like “Citizen Kane,” but there were some sluggish moments. If the movie was twenty or thirty minutes shorter, the movie would have been more thrilling. The two scenes that I mentioned above (the parking garage conversation & the research scene) were both in the first thirty to forty minutes. Earlier in this review I mentioned how the director brought some intensity, but it wasn’t present throughout the whole film. There were some moments dispersed throughout the movie with the tension and intensity of Pakula, but there was not enough of it. My final significant critique was that the film ended too abruptly. There was a lot of adrenaline in the final fifteen minutes, and instead of continuing the thrills, the movie just ended. All of a sudden, after (spoilers) the main characters’ lives were discovered to be in danger, the film showed a speech by former president Richard Nixon and just ended. Plus, it ended with the lazy cliché of “black screen with words describing what happened after the events of the film.” That is my second least favorite move cliché, only after dream sequences.

I know it may seem in my review that I complained about the film more than I praised it, but I truly do think it is a good movie. The directing, performances, cinematography, and story were all great, but the pacing of the film was flawed. I recommend this movie to fans of these actors and to people who are interested in the Watergate scandal.

Grade: B

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