Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are arguably the most famous newspaper reporters America has ever produced. Their investigation of the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post eventually led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon and their 1974 book, “All the President’s Men.” Two years later, a movie based on the book by the same name, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, hit theaters.
I’ve worked in newspapers for nearly 20 years and was familiar with Woodward and Bernstein, but it irked me that I’d never actually seen the movie or read the book about their work on the Watergate scandal. For that reason, I put them on my “bucket list,” and I finally got around to watching the movie last Sunday, April 30. Now that I’ve seen the movie, I really want to read the book, because the book is almost always better than the movie.
Directed by Alan J. Pakula, “All the President’s Men” debuted in theaters on April 9, 1976. Redford played the role of Woodward, and Hoffman played Bernstein. Hal Holbrook played the role of “Deep Throat,” the famous informant whose true identity (former Federal Bureau of Investigation Associate Director Mark Felt) wasn’t revealed and confirmed until 2005.
I have to admit that my interest in the “All the President’s Men” really ramped up after I saw it on several “best of” lists. The Art of Manliness included it on a list they called “The Essential Men’s Movie Library,” and Shortlist.com included it on a list called the 25 Greatest Movies of the 1970s. The book version can also be found on many “best of” lists.
I also remember reading somewhere that this movie was the inspiration for an entire generation of investigative reporters. The newspaper industry has changed a lot since the early 1970s, but I have to admit that the movie did make me want to improve my work as a reporter. The sad reality is that today many newspapers have done away with their investigative reporters due to the effects of the internet and social media.
The movie left me with the strong desire to read the book version, which hit book shelves two years before the movie was released. Interestingly, Woodward and Bernstein wrote the book after Redford expressed interest in buying the movie rights. I’ve owned a copy of this book for years, but have just never taken the time to read it. I even checked out a copy of it when I was in high school, but I know that I didn’t read the whole thing. I only used portions of it to write an American history paper.
I was also interested to learn that the movie version of “All the President’s Men” was actually the third movie in a trilogy of movies called Pakula’s “paranoia trilogy.” The other two movies in the series are 1971’s “Klute” and 1974’s “The Parallax View.” I’d never heard of either one of these movies, but “Klute” is a crime thriller starring Donald Sutherland, and “The Parallax View” is a political thriller starring Warren Beatty.
In the end, how many of you have watched “All the President’s Men”? How many of you have read the book? What did you think about them? Let us know in the comments section below.