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Blu-ray Review: “All the President’s Men: Two Disc Special Edition”

prez MenTo commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Watergate break-in and the ensuing political scandal that lead to the disgrace and resignation of Richard Nixon, Warner Brothers is releasing this special two disc Blu-ray edition of All the President’s Men. The film, based on the bestselling book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, was a commercial and critical success upon its release in 1976.  Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay (William Goldman) and Best Supporting Actor (Jason Robards), All the President’s Men remains, in my mind, the standard by which all modern political thrillers are measured.

Director Alan Pakula, having previously worked on two paranoid classics, Klute and The Parallax View, turned what could have been a dry story about two newspaper men into a gripping nail biter. Were Woodward and Bernstein’s lives ever really in danger? The film certainly leads us to believe that by creating a mood of dread and paranoia that has you on the edge of your seat. It helps that Pakula and the cast were working with a tightly wound script by Goldman, who’d previously won an Academy Award for writing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman (as Woodward and Bernstein) were at the top of their game, creating an unlikely onscreen duo. Much of the charm of this picture is the comedic interplay between Redford and Hoffman. I always forget how funny All the President’s Men is in places. The supporting cast, which also included veteran character actors Martin Balsam, Hal Halbrook and Jack Warden, were exemplary.

This excellent Blu-ray provides an nice transfer to HD and beautiful sound. The release contains bonus features that have found themselves on previous home video releases. They include two featurettes on the making of the film, a vintage Jason Robards interview with Dinah Shore, the movie trailer, and commentary by Redford, who was also one of the film’s producers.

The real treat of this new release is the inclusion of All the President’s Men Revisited, a 2012 documentary that originally aired on Discovery Channel. Narrated by Redford, this documentary brings together all of the elements of the Watergate story, from the identity of Deep Throat, to the actual investigation, to the writing of the book and the production of the film. Woodward, Bernstein, Redford and Hoffman are all interviewed, providing their own insight into the scandal. Additionally, we get to see archival footage and hear some of Nixon’s secret recordings. This documentary would be worth on purchase on its own. That it comes with one of the greatest movies from the 1970s makes this one hell of a Christmas present for the political junkie, or conspiracy nut, in your family.

All the President’s Men is available now through Amazon for $19.99