All the President’s Men: Special Edition

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. Warner’s new Two-Disc Special Edition does justice to the previous featureless disc (and one of the first DVD’s on the market), so an upgrade is highly recommended.

Video: How does it look?

As I mentioned above, I’ve never seen the movie (in any format), so I can’t really draw too much of a comparison to the previous DVD release. I will say that the older release was a full-frame version and this new release sports a brand new anamorphic transfer. The 1.85:1 image uses several instances in which the cropping and framing are perfect for what’s on the screen. I’m thinking of a few instances in which we see a television on one side of the screen and someone talking on the other. It’s a great argument for widescreen. The movie is 30 years old and does show signs of aging, but there are moments when the image is crystal clear. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between as most of the film seems to have a dingy look and feel to it, with some of the nighttime shots being littered with artifacting. Don’t let this scare you away though, it’s likely the best “All the President’s Men” has ever looked.

Audio: How does it sound?

“All the President’s Men” sports a new digital soundtrack, but it’s mainly a fairly dialogue-driven mix. In fact, it’s entirely dialogue-driven. The movie was nominated for Best Sound and it’s quite a difference when you compare something like this to the movies of today. Actually, there is no comparison. I didn’t notice any distortion of that kind of “roughness” associated with some older movies. The voices sounded clean and natural with none of that muffled sound that you might attribute to a film of this age. Don’t expect it to light up your home theater, but the soundtrack does deliver.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This two disc set features some pretty interesting features, which it should considering the material. Disc one offers up the movie in anamorphic widescreen and 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.

The second disc contains several featurettes and a documentary. “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. If you own the current version of “All the President’s Men”, give it to a friend because this new version is worth your time and money.

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