Director Alan Pakula zeroes in on the most significant aspect of All the President's Men:
"We live in a society where everyone's looking for bold strokes, big gestures, and larger-than-life heroes. But this is a true story in which the impossible was achieved through an obsession with detail, through a constant chipping away and piecing together by people the public had never heard of. The story we're telling is a vindication of the oldest American theme -- the power of the individual -- and it happened just at a time when we were losing faith in that power."
Producer Robert Redford calls the movie a "howdonit" rather than a thriller. Here is the fascinating story of the investigative journalists who uncovered the Watergate cover-up and eventually undid Richard Nixon's presidency.
Most of the film's wallop comes through excellent casting. The two Washington Post reporters are played by Dustin Hoffman as the go-getter Carl Bernstein and Robert Redford as the polished and precise Bob Woodward. Jason Robards is Post editor Benjamin Bradlee; Jack Warden and Martin Balsam are the metropolitan editor and managing editor; Hal Holbrook is informant "Deep Throat"; and Jane Alexander is the bookkeeper for The Committee for the Re-election of the President.
The film shows how two young, ambitious newsmen latched onto a few unusual details in a petty burglary and gathered enough information to unravel a gigantic government conspiracy. Their efforts are characterized by doubts, threats, confusion, and mistakes as well as good guesses, amazing breakthroughs, and long hours of hard work.
Woodward's most important source as "Deep Throat," an insider with intimate knowledge of what was going on at the White House, The Committee for the Re-election of the President, the FBI, and the Justice Department. Some of the film's most tense moments take place in a parking garage where the reporter and the mysterious informant meet.
From the opening slashes of a typewriter hammering out letters on a piece of white paper to the coda of Watergate news headlines reported on a lino-type machine, we are caught up in the visceral and intellectual thrills of investigative journalism as high adventure. And then, as Pakula noted, there is also the internal satisfaction of knowing that the David versus Goliath confrontation is still possible in an age when the odds are against such stories of moral triumph.