Following Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's book, director Alan Pakula and scripter William Goldman make this film a dynamic detective yarn, even though everyone already knows the ending, by covering only the reporters' investigation of the scandal and keeping the administration criminals offscreen. The reporters may be able to expose the truth this time, but who knows what other government conspiracies remain in the shadows. With a heightened realist style that recreated the Washington Post newsroom down to its garbage, All the President's Men became a popular and critical success, indicating that the public had not yet tired of the Watergate story -- at least when it featured Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. Despite winning several critics' prizes, All the President's Men lost the Best Picture Oscar to Rocky, although it did pick up awards for Robards, Goldman, and its meticulous art direction. Cannily appealing to both an audience's desire for a "happy" ending and the 1970s knowledge of that ending's limitations, All the President's Men told a true-life suspense tale about the triumph of a free press, even though what Woodward and Bernstein exposed about Richard Nixon's White House was hardly reassuring.
by Lucia Bozzola review