'All the President's Men Revisited' review: Robert Redford's war stories
THE SHOW "All the President's Men Revisited"
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Sunday on Discovery
WHAT IT'S ABOUT June 17, 1972: A security guard discovers a piece of tape across a door's lock -- to keep it open -- at The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. He calls the police and -- fast-forward over the past 41 years -- great reputations in journalism were made, a president resigned, a fine movie was produced starring Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford. Finally, a major cable network, Discovery, devotes a 90-minute special Sunday to a mashup of all this.
Redford narrates this documentary, which offers some behind-the-scenes nuggets from the 1976 Alan J. Pakula-directed film. Numerous figures from President Richard Nixon's staff, including Egil "Bud" Krogh Jr., Watergate "plumber" and head of the "Special Investigative Unit" at the White House, and former White House counsel John Dean, are also interviewed.
MY SAY "All the President's Men Revisited" offers, at least implicitly, an irresistible only-in-the-age-of-Hollywood premise -- that Redford actually had something to do with Watergate because he starred in the movie about Watergate. In fact, he did not have anything to do with Watergate (as he notes, he was in production on "The Great Gatsby" while it was unfolding), while the movie by Pakula -- who died in a tragic accident on the LIE in 1998 -- covered just the briefest span of Watergate history. It began roughly at the moment Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Hoffman) were called in on the story, and included that blood-freezing moment when the Post's story on H.R. Haldeman's control of a massive "slush fund" was denied by the White House, and Deep Throat (played by Hal Holbrook) told "Woodstein" that their lives were in danger. But Sunday's documentary covers everything -- and then some, including a detour on whether a story like Watergate could even be covered in the age of Twitter.
While the story is briskly and engagingly told, with some key players debriefed, there's not a lot new here. It's a very good beginner's history, and will -- or should -- drive viewers to check out "All the President's Men," one of the finest films about journalism ever made.
BOTTOM LINE Interesting, well told -- and little new. But it's fun to listen to Redford's war stories.