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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: All the President's Men



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#1 of 15 ONLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 21 2011 - 10:07 AM

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All the President's Men
Release Date: Available now
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Digibook
Year: 1976
Rating: PG
Running Time: 2:18:21
MSRP: $34.99


  THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES
Video 1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1 Standard definition
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 1.0 / Dolby Digital: French 1.0, German 1.0, Italian 1.0, Castellano 1.0, Spanish 1.0, Portuguese 1.0 Stereo
Subtitles English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Castellano, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish Same

The Feature: 4.5/5

A break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Office Complex in June of 1972 leads Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) to a political scandal that not only alters their careers but rattles the nation's political consciousness. As the two men doggedly pursue each lead from the initial crime, a picture begins to form that points to the culpability of not just low-level Republican party members but close advisers in President Nixon's administration. It's a controversial - and dangerous - story, and one that's hard to sell, even to their executive editor, Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards). But as Woodward and Bernstein build their case - aided in large part by Woodward's deep background source "Deep Throat" (Hal Holbrook) -  the truth, and the responsibility to publish the story, become irrefutable. Though they never would have guessed where the investigation would take them, they also have no idea the investigation is just beginning.

Coming less than two years after the resignation of President Nixon and the publication of Woodward and Bernstein's book detailing the Watergate Scandal, Alan Pakula's "All the President's Men" seems like it would have suffered from a uninterested public, tired of the story and wanting to move on. But there's something to be said for a well-crafted film, and one that skillfully maintains a level of intrigue and mystery despite the major plot points being so well known. It probably doesn't hurt that the web of deceit and the lengths of Woodward and Bernstein's investigation were so intricate. One could probably study the scandal for years but still never grasp it all, and over three decades later the story - of both the scandal and the development of two largely untested reporters - continues to fascinate. Having seen the film a few times now, it definitely whets the appetite for a better understanding of events (especially as it just covers the first seven months of the scandal). So much so that I for one have just found the next book to add to my nightstand.


Video Quality: 4/5

Presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer approximates the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 frame. Grain is fairly heavy throughout most of the film, and often apparent in the more dimly lit environments, of which there are many given Cinematographer Gordon Willis's shadowy lighting schemes. Black levels hold up quite well throughout, however, with few instances where the image looks flat from limited depth. In fact contrast can be a touch too strong much of the time, though blacks never reach the point of looking crushed or compressed. Overall sharpness is subject to some source-related softness or focusing errors, and while the grainier film stock doesn't make for the most finely detailed picture, there appears to be no attempt to alter the original look of the image with sharpening tools.

Audio Quality: 4/5
Dialogue in the mono DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently clear and intelligible. Vocal characteristics are nicely detailed with no instances of hiss, noise or other age-related issues. Though listed as a single-channel track, player stats indicate two active channels, both of which I assume are identical.


Special Features: 4/5
The extras include all the items from the 2006 two-disc special edition DVD and offer a solid look behind the production along with some interesting archival pieces.


Commentary by Robert Redford: Redford provides a measured but thoughtful commentary, touching on various dimensions of the production. His most interesting observations center around real life figures of the story, having worked with them closely throughout the project.


Telling the Truth About Lies: The Making of All the President's Men (28:22, SD): Details how Redford influenced Woodward and Bernstein's book, steps toward developing the book into film, and challenges of the production, in particular the reticence of real life figures and studios to make the movie. The piece also spends some time on the requisite subjects of cinematography, production design, casting, direction, and reception. Narrated by Hal Holbrook and produced in 2006.


Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting the Fire (17:54, SD): A look at the significance of Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate investigation - its legacy and influence on the journalism industry. Narrated by Hal Holbrook and produced in 2006.


Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat (16:21, SD): The man behind the "Deep Throat" alias, and the importance of protecting journalistic sources. Narrated by Hal Holbrook and produced in 2006.


Pressure and the Press: The Making of All the President's Men (10:05, SD): 1976 electronic press kit covers the film's development and production.


5/27/1976 Dinah! with Jason Robards (7:10, SD): Robards and Shore briefly discuss their reaction and public reception to the film on Shore's daytime TV talk show. Unfortunately the clip ends before Shore shares her theory on Deep Throat's identity.

Theatrical Trailer (2:51, SD)


Collectible Book: The nicely produced book-that-is-the-packaging includes cast and crew biographies, background on the production and numerous photographs.


Recap
The Feature: 4.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5

Warner Home Video turns in a fine audio and video presentation for an engaging political thriller based on all-too-real events. The special features include all the items from the last DVD special edition, making the total package the clear choice for first-time purchasers. For those who already have the title on DVD, it should make for a worthwhile upgrade given the appropriate price point.


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#2 of 15 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted February 21 2011 - 12:38 PM

Thanks for the review, Cameron. This has been in the "to view pile" since last week and you've inspired me to give it a spin tonite.



#3 of 15 ONLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 21 2011 - 04:33 PM

Hope you enjoy it. I started reading a few pages of the book and was not expecting Woodward and Bernstein to be writing about themselves in the third person. But after some thought it seemed fitting as Nixon was notorious for doing that. :)


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#4 of 15 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted February 23 2011 - 08:00 AM

I've always loved this film, but watching it on Blu-ray was a real treat.  There was one real dupey-looking scene in the newsroom when they were in a group meeting in an office, but overall I was pleased with the A/V quality.



#5 of 15 ONLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted February 23 2011 - 08:17 AM

A favorite, and a must-buy.  And I'm especially happy that they issued it in digibook edition.



#6 of 15 OFFLINE   David Wilkins

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Posted February 23 2011 - 10:08 AM

Love the way Criterion consistently give their bonus features 1080p treatment, and the way studios consistently do not. I know, I know...source material limitations, but it's still better than SD.


#7 of 15 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted February 23 2011 - 12:26 PM

I agree David. It can be done so just do it.
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#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Osato

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Posted March 31 2011 - 06:14 AM

I saw this title today at Best Buy and would like to pick it up on blu ray. I saw it a few year's ago and really enjoyed the film.

I was a little displeased with the pricing on the title. $30 at BB and $26 on Amazon. I love blu ray films and the format, but the pricing on discs is really all over the place, IMO.

Even more so from store to store.

Sorry for the rant. If the film was $15-20 range I would've picked it up today.

I can see why consumers will end up choosing DVD over blu ray at times based on pricing. I know there are a lot of differences between formats. It's just hard at times to pay extra on titles even knowing the blu ray benefits. I guess it's those bubble titles? The ones you like but don't have to have....





#9 of 15 OFFLINE   Christian Preischl

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Posted March 31 2011 - 07:42 PM



Originally Posted by Tim Haxton 


I was a little displeased with the pricing on the title. $30 at BB and $26 on Amazon. I love blu ray films and the format, but the pricing on discs is really all over the place, IMO.

Even more so from store to store.

Sorry for the rant. If the film was $15-20 range I would've picked it up today.


The price on this title seems to be so high because of the Blu-ray book packaging. This disc - just like any other Warner Blu-ray book - retails for $35 (thus being available for $25-$30 on release day) whereas Warner catalogue titles in standard packaging (including Network, which was released on the same day) usually retail for $20 (therefore being more in the $15 price range). I don't have a problem with the Blu-ray book packaging as a concept, but being essentially charged $10-$15 more for it is pretty steep. I could get the actual "All the President's Men" book for less! :)


I guess one option is to spring for it now or wait until they release it in standard packaging a few months down the line (they usually do).



#10 of 15 ONLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted April 01 2011 - 01:34 AM

I personally love the book format, but for the price, I'd be a lot happier if these releases would include a little more hardcore scholarly writing or production information in them, a la Criterion booklets.  Some are okay, others are fluff.  But on the shelf, they are hands down some of the best looking items in my collection.  They even feel great in the hand.  Would I want to pay $25-$30 for every movie?  Hell no.  But I think special releases are well deserving of the treatment, and I'm all for it.



#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Osato

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Posted April 05 2011 - 08:21 AM



Originally Posted by Christian Preischl 




The price on this title seems to be so high because of the Blu-ray book packaging. This disc - just like any other Warner Blu-ray book - retails for $35 (thus being available for $25-$30 on release day) whereas Warner catalogue titles in standard packaging (including Network, which was released on the same day) usually retail for $20 (therefore being more in the $15 price range). I don't have a problem with the Blu-ray book packaging as a concept, but being essentially charged $10-$15 more for it is pretty steep. I could get the actual "All the President's Men" book for less! :)


I guess one option is to spring for it now or wait until they release it in standard packaging a few months down the line (they usually do).


Understood. Thanks for the follow up. I'll probably wait at this point. I enjoy the book packaging that WB did for North By Northwest.

I'll probably wait for a reissue and a lower price at this point. $26-30 for the title seems a bit too high for me.

One wonders why WB doesn't offer 2 different package types?



#12 of 15 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted June 30 2012 - 01:18 PM

My wife and I just watched this and in he closing credits we noticed F. Murray Abraham. We both are wondering where was he? He was listed in an alphabetical listing of about 50 actors who "co-starred". I restarted the movie with the commentary on and saw him early on. Immediately after the courtroom scene at the beginning, there's a meeting in an office at the paper. He is one of two actors who are just there with no lines. This was not our first watching of the film. Still a great film.
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#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Osato

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Posted June 30 2012 - 03:43 PM

My wife and I just watched this and in he closing credits we noticed F. Murray Abraham. We both are wondering where was he? He was listed in an alphabetical listing of about 50 actors who "co-starred". I restarted the movie with the commentary on and saw him early on. Immediately after the courtroom scene at the beginning, there's a meeting in an office at the paper. He is one of two actors who are just there with no lines. This was not our first watching of the film. Still a great film.

Great post! Thanks for the trivia as well! I picked up the film in late last year. I had only seen it one other time years before, but it was so much fun to watch it again. Great film!

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   Dick

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Posted July 01 2012 - 08:22 AM

What I find frightening is that, other than ROLLING STONE and MOTHER JONES and a few other magazines, fearless investigative journalism such as that of Woodward and Bernstein have become a thing of the past, much to the detriment of all Americans who wish to be kept informed with facts rather than gossip and spin.

#15 of 15 OFFLINE   Rick Thompson

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Posted July 01 2012 - 02:28 PM

Interesting that in all the extras, no mention of William Goldman, who won an Oscar for the screenplay. As Goldman notes in "Adventures in the Screen Trade," writers get no respect.