'All the President's Men' -- Two-Disc Special Edition
Strong extras complement the still-vital 1976 film
Working from the first-hand accounts by Washington Post scribes Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in the film), William Goldman's "All the President's Men" script is a dense piece of work, an assemblage of names, political positions and motivations that's both far sparer than the actual events, but also vastly more complex than your typical mainstream movie. It's Pakula's great achievement that the movie never feels like a history lesson or a lecture on journalistic ethics. It's also impressive that even though I've seen the film at least a half dozen times and read the book as well, parts of the unfolding reporting still seem entirely fresh with each viewing.
The stars are solid, but the movie's great weight comes from supporting players including Jane Alexander, Jack Warden, Hal Holbrook, Ned Beatty, Stephen Collins and Oscar winner Jason Robards.
After lingering for years in a stripped-down sub-par DVD, "All the President's Men" gets strong treatment in its new Warner Bros. release. Beyond a stellar transfer of the film itself, nearly every bonus feature offers new information and -- most importantly for a film this political -- its own message and ideology. Just as the movie has a point to make, the extras do as well.
The second disc starts with "Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President's Men," a better-than-average making-of doc that benefits from the presence of both the filmmakers and stars as well as the real principals including Woodward, Bernstein and Ben Bradlee. Narrated by Holbrook, the 28-minute doc is missing only the presence of the late Pakula, though his contributions to the film are amply celebrated, as are some fascinating insights into the project's visual and acting decisions.
Holding off on this DVD yielded one major plus for Warner Bros., Mark Felt's revelation that he was informant extraordinaire Deep Throat. While Felt doesn't appear in "Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat," his role in Watergate is amply discussed and while the featurette's ultimate message may be that anonymous sources are an absolute requirement for reporters, it's still a balanced discussion of this necessary evil. The issue is also raised in "Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire," which is thankfully less about the two main scribes and more about the freedom of the press.
On the main disc, Redford provides a solid commentary. As a producer and director on "All the President's Men," as well as a sometime director and political activist, Redford is uniquely positioned to provide a mixture of cinematic analysis and historical background.
STUDIO: Warner Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 21
PRICE: $26.98 (or as part of the "Controversial Classics Vol. 2 box set with "Network" and "Dog Day Afternoon" for $59.98
TIME: 138 minutes
DVD EXTRAS: Commentary from Robert Redford; vintage featurettes; "Telling the Truth About Lies;" "Out of the Shadows;" "Lighting the Fire"