All the President’s Men (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

There are two things you think of when you mention the words “Deep Throat” and the other I really can’t get into in this review. “Deep Throat” as anyone over the age of 20 should know, was the code name of the anonymous source that helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein break the Watergate story which ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Admittedly, I never really knew much about Watergate (though for consistency’s sake, I did know what “Deep Throat” was in regards to the scandal) and until this new DVD came out, I’d never seen “All the President’s Men”. The movie is based on the book by the two reporters who broke the story and subsequently wrote the best-selling novel. “All the President’s Men” follows the story from the initial break in of the Watergate office building to the ultimate downfall of the country’s top leader.

Robert Redford, who also Produced the movie, stars as Bob Woodward; a new reporter to the Washington Post with only 9 months experience to his credit. Dustin Hoffman plays Carl Bernstein, someone with a dozen years experience. Woodward initially gets the Watergate story, covering the break in. As he starts to do some digging, he realizes that there’s more to it than meets the eye. As Bernstein gives his unsolicited help, both are assigned to the story. The duo start doing interviews, finding road blocks thrown in their face and it’s not long before they realize that they might have stumbled onto the story of the century. There’s a cover up, wire taps and no one is saying a word. People are indicted, jobs are lost and the gag order is in full effect over their stories. There’s a lot of public criticism too, but Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards) sticks by his reporters and takes the blows. We all know the result.

“All the President’s Men” is a movie that had to be made, namely to inform the public as to what Watergate actually was. Real names are used, archived footage and the investigative track that Woodward and Bernstein used to break the story. Watergate has gone down as one of the biggest news stories of the 20th century and forced the only resignation of a United States President. Watching the movie is more like a history lesson than a work of entertainment and though dated (check out Hoffman’s hair), the story is no less poignant then than it is now. The movie was nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Picture and it walked away with half of those.

Video: How does it look?

This film started out as a movie only, full-frame transfer back in the fledgling days of DVD. Time passed, technology improved and we are now presented with a Blu-ray. The 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer is certainly an improvement over the initial release and does, in fact, improve upon the re-mastered two-disc edition that came out a few years back. Color saturation seems improved and though the movie is very dated and dominated by some more earthy tones, there’s a noticeable difference in sharpness and detail. Black levels and contrast seem average and though there are some scenes that have a bit of grain, it’s not all bad. Certainly this is the definitive version, visually, of this film.

Audio: How does it sound?

“All the President’s Men” was nominated for Best Sound, but lost. Still, there’s no comparison to the films of today, but this movie has a different type of sound. It’s nearly all dialogue-driven, though we do get some pretty interesting sound effects from typewriters and whatnot (remember those)? There’s no distortion with the soundtrack and though the surrounds are pretty much non-existent, they do chime in from time to time. This is the typical example of a movie simply delivering what it promises, so don’t plan to be blown away in regards to audio because you won’t be.

Supplements: What are the extras?

If you own the two-disc standard DVD from a few years back, there’s nothing new in terms of supplements here. Everything has made the leap to Blu-ray. There are some pretty interesting features, however so let’s get started. We start off with a commentary by Robert Redford (though it would have been nice to have Hoffman sit in as well). Redford, as the Producer, had some pretty keen insight into the facets of the movie and it’s reflected throughout his track. He makes comments on some of the people interviewed and tells how they ended up after the Watergate affair. It’s an interesting track, though not the most lively. There is also the original theatrical trailer for this and other films. Moving on, we get “Telling the Truth About Lies” is a making of featurette that tells of the inspiration for the film and how it all came to be (i.e. once Redford came aboard, everything fell into place). “Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire” has some new interviews with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as they reflect back on their historic story. “Pressure and the Press: The Making of “All the President’s Men”” is a vintage look at the movie and one I enjoyed. There’s some behind the scenes footage and seeing these “vintage” featurettes is pretty amusing (do you think they had any idea it would be used on a DVD thirty years later)? Jason Robards” appearance on Dinah! Show is also included. I’m assuming this is Dinah Shore, but the show was before my time. Still, it’s nice to see him talk about the role and he was the perfect choice for the role. Lastly, “Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat” is a featurette on the man who literally was Deep Throat. Mark Felt is that man and he came out of “hiding” in May 2005 to announce to the world that he was Deep Throat. The former #2 man at the CIA admitted to being the source and at the age of 91 ” this tells his story. Lastly, this is a “DigiBook” release, so we get the associated goodies there as well. A great movie and if you don’t already own the two-disc DVD, this is certainly the version to have.

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