If you're up for a DVD double feature this holiday weekend, I've got a rental tip for you. Michelle Williams, currently in the Best Actress Academy Award race right now for her performance as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn, inspired my movie picks. First, see Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as investigative newspaper journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in All The President's Men. Alan J. Pakula directed this tense, true drama about the two reporters for The Washington Post.
Their righteously maverick coverage of the Watergate scandal for the newspaper eventually lead to President Nixon's resignation while in office. I remember watching Nixon resign live on network television. His broadcast was quite a few minutes shorter than pro golfer Tiger Woods' "I cheated on my wife" mea culpa that, for some reason, also warranted live special broadcast network coverage decades later.
All The President's Men was a big hit and one of the best big Hollywood studio releases of the 1970s. So much of the reporters' work was quite mundane. Checking files at a library, making countless phone calls, taking notes, sitting through staff meetings. But director Alan J. Pakula made it thrilling with a cast of fine actors doing solid work. Not just the two stars, but supporting players like Jason Robards (who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this film), Jane Alexander, Hal Holbrook, Ned Beatty and Jack Warden. There's a bit player named F. Murray Abraham as Arresting Officer #1. He'd go on to win the Best Actor Oscar for his work in Amadeus, the Best Picture Academy Award winner for 1984. The power of the press and the need for freedom of the press were at the heart of All The President's Men, an Oscar nominee for Best Picture of 1976.
The sizes of journalism classes in colleges increased with the popularity of this movie. Then, and now, I felt that many of the students -- and I knew some -- really didn't want to be the dedicated investigative journalists doing the commonplace, tedious requirements of the craft. They wanted to be Hoffman and Redford as Bernstein and Woodward. I think this film was influential in the new wave of journalists as celebrities. Like Geraldo Rivera. There are young reporters on television today who, I bet, really don't fully know why the syllable "gate" is attached to a end of a word used in a new scandal story. Especially a political scandal. It comes from the Watergate break-in story. Additionally, those young reporters probably don't know how news was gathered in the pre-internet and pre-cell phone days. Bernstein and Woodward went to a library. They didn't log onto Wikipedia for facts. Look at what those two hardworking reporters did with typewriters, steno pads, ink pens and rotary telephones. They brought down a President of the United States who overrode our Constitution.
Michelle Williams is an Oscar nominee for playing the Hollywood legend who famously sang a sexy rendition of "Happy Birthday" to President John F. Kennedy -- Marilyn Monroe.
It's her third Oscar nomination. One for playing a tragic Hollywood movie queen and two for playing young women in troubled working class marriages. After you've seen All The President's Men, see Michelle Williams give a bright comedy performance as the bespectacled high schooler, Arlene Lorenzo, in Dick. For a truly funny political satire, you can't beat Dick. Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst star as two clueless high school girls on a field trip who wander off during a White House tour and meet Richard M. Nixon.
They bumble their way into becoming the official White House dog walkers. Not only that, they're chosen as special White House youth advisors to President Nixon during his Watergate crisis. The girls feel that they're doing their patriotic duty. As Michelle's Arlene character says, "We're human beings and we're American citizens. And four score and seven years ago, our forefathers......did something."