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Taken from a non-fiction source, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN ($35) is definitely one of the best political thrillers of the 1970s. Based on the 1974 non-fiction book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN tells the story from the reporters’ point of view of their investigation into the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex. Five burglars are arrested at the scene, and while the incident has all the earmarks of a non-story, reporter Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) attends the arraignment and notices that the burglars have heavyweight legal council. A background check on the burglars indicates at least one with a CIA background, not to mention, ties to the office of President Richard Nixon's Special Counsel Charles Colson. As the story proves bigger than anticipated, Woodward is soon teamed with journalist Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman)- an unlikely pairing that proves highly effective.

Although given some latitude by The Washington Post’s Executive editor Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards), Woodward and Bernstein are continually pushed by said editor for more facts that will clearly connect the dots, and create the big picture. An anonymous source known as "Deep Throat" (Hal Holbrook) gives Woodward a push in the right direction by advising him to "follow the money," which ultimately leads the reporters to evidence that connects the burglars to campaign contributions that were diverted from the Nixon Committee to Re-elect the President. Eventually the trail leads something much larger than just a minor break-in at the Watergate complex... taking the report’s story all the way to The Oval Office. The cast of ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN also features Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Jane Alexander, Meredith Baxter, Ned Beatty, Polly Holliday, Stephen Collins, Penny Fuller, Robert Walden, Frank Wills, F. Murray Abraham, David Arkin, Henry Calvert, Dominic Chianese, Ron Hale and James Karen.

Warner Home Video has made ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation isn’t always pretty, but it is an accurate representation of what a film from 1976 should look like. Cinematographer Gordon Willis shot ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN in a non-glamorous, near documentary fashion, which sets an appropriate tone for the fact driven story. The image appears sharper, better defined and more textured than it has ever has on any other home medium. Color reproduction is quite good, but definitely influenced by the seventies era film stocks, upon which, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN was photographed. Scene to scene, there are some inconsistencies, but then again, available lighting does play a large part in how individual sequences look. Blacks are accurate, as are the whites. Contrast is generally pleasing. Shadow detail drops into the abyss rather quickly, but this appears to be a direct result of the cinematography’s reliance on practical and available lighting. The elements from which ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN has been transferred appear to have been digitally cleaned up to remove almost all signs of age. Film grain is noticeable throughout, with some sequences showing more than others.

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Overall, the sound is tight and very precise. As ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN is a talky drama, with no real action, the one channel sound gets the job done effectively. Even with the lossless encode, the sound is a little thinner than modern recordings, but the sound effects come across quite well. Voices have a respectable sense of character, while the dialogue itself is easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital monaural tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with producer/star Robert Redford. Next up is Telling The Truth About Lies: The Making Of All The President’s Men, a twenty-eight minute look back at the production. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Woodward And Bernstein: Lighting The Fire (eighteen minutes), Out Of The Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat (sixteen minutes), and the vintage program, Pressure And The Press: The Making Of All The President’s Men (ten minutes). An excerpt from a 1976 episode of DINAH! featuring Jason Robards with Dinah Shore and a Theatrical Trailer close out the supplemental materials. ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN features book styled packaging that contains thirty-eight pages of photos and production notes.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards and the winner of four, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN is definitely one of the best political thrillers of the 1970s, not to mention being one of the best films of the decade. The Blu-ray presentation offers accurate high definition video and solid audio, which perfectly reflect how this vintage film should look and sound. Highly recommended.


All the President's Men [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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