GOP Security Aide Among 5 Arrested in Bugging Affair
By Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writers
June 19, 1972

One of the five men arrested early Saturday in the attempt to bug the Democratic National Committee headquarters is the salaried security coordinator for President Nixon’s reelection committee.

The suspect, former CIA employee James W. McCord Jr., 53, also holds a separate contract to provide security services to the Republican National Committee, GOP national chairman Bob Dole said yesterday....

All the President’s Men (1976)
136 minutes, Warner Bros.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Screenwriter: William Goldman
Primary cast:
Robert Redford - Bob Woodward
Dustin Hoffman - Carl Bernstein
Jason Robards - Ben Bradlee
Hal Holbrook - Deep Throat
Jane Alexander - bookkeeper
Jack Warden - Harry Rosenfeld
Martin Balsam - Howard Simons

The best movie about journalism as well as the Nixon presidency, All the President’s Men is the film classic that sent a generation of reporters to journalism school. Amazingly, it lost the best picture Oscar to Rocky, but it did pick up 4 of the 8 Oscars it was nominated for. It was based on the book by Woodward and Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters whose historic investigation of the Watergate break-in brought down a corrupt President.

Robert Redford got the screen rights to an early draft of the book and was interested in a documentary-style film with relatively unknown actors. Warner Bros. initially balked because political movies were not big box office successes and they thought people were tired of Watergate. But with Redford, then the country’s biggest movie star, in one of the lead roles, they agreed. They wanted another star alongside Redford, such as Al Pacino or Robert De Niro, and were not ecstatic about his choice of Dustin Hoffman. Hoffman, who had also wanted to get the screen rights to the book, asked Redford “What took you so long?”

Behind the scenes, things were tumultuous. The shape of the film probably owes much to screenwriter William Goldman, but the director and stars had a problem with the tone of the script and often rewrote scenes on the set. Goldman thought that Pakula did not provide enough direction and grew more distant as filming went on. The Post was nitpicky about the film and published an attack in the form of an article on the making of the movie. Redford to this day has a distate for journalists because of this.

Redford and Hoffman spent countless hours with Woodward and Bernstein, absorbing their mannerisms and mimicing their style of dress. $450,000 was spent on a slavish recreation of the Washington Post newsroom, down to the stickers on a secretary’s desk. They also carted assorted bits of the newsroom itself, including trash, to stock the set. Visually, it was a gritty, realistic depicition of a newsroom. However, the plot, as in almost all movies of real events, varied a bit from the truth in the details. Post staffers took issue with the depicition of Woodward and Bernstein burning the midnight oil alone, when in reality, many others in the newsroom aided in the story. The key contributions of City Editor Barry Sussman and Managing Editor Howard Simons were minimized or eliminated in the film.

The film opens with a typewriter banging out June 1, 1972 in giant letters, as Nixon returns in triumph from China. Major political events happen in the background, often seen on TV while Woodward and Bernstein are typing in the newsroom. The focus here is on the two reporters and their search, not cutting back and forth between the pair and, say, the White House. The tight focus makes this a very different movie than a cookie cutter documentary, an idea of Reford and Goldwin, which actually caused Woodward and Berstein to change the focus of their book as well.

The search is the thing, reflected in the impressive cinematography, full of labyrniths and shadows, most notably the often-parodied shot of the Library of Congress from above. It’s also about secrets and confession, as source after source must be coaxed by Woodward and Bernstein to reveal the truth. Essential to their quest are the bookkeeper played by Jayne Alexander, whose guilt motivates her to confess to the reporters, and the mysterious Deep Throat, played by Hal Holbrook, who meets with Bernstein in the deep shadows of a parking garage and urges him to “Follow the money”.

The film does not pander and has confidence in the patience and intelligence of its audience to follow the pair through a dim and arcane bookkeeping trail, though the actors and Pakula’s pacing make it thrilling. It’s unafraid not to be triumphant or act as cheerleader to Woodward and Bernstein, as it ends on what seems like failure - Nixon’s second inaguration. But it is on TV in the background as the pair type away in the newsroom - the audience knows what will happen in the end.

A bit of trivia: Frank Wills, the security guard at the Watergate who called the police plays himself in the film.

Entertainment Weekly, February 22, 2002,
Washington Post,

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