This project is an analysis of the film “All the Presidents Men” (1976). The film portrays the events surrounding the Watergate Scandal during the Nixon Administration in the early 1970s. The project involves viewing the film and analyzing how historically accurate or inaccurate the film is. In other words, do not just describe the plot of the film, I want for you to research legitimate sources that examine the accuracy of the film.
Films, like literature, may reflect more about the values of the time in which they were made or written as opposed to the times they portray. In a 1997 Point-Counter Point, actor Charleston Heston debated filmmaker Oliver Stone on historical films. Heston argued films about history should be as accurate as possible since “that’s all the history some people will ever get”. Stone disagreed, arguing historical films are about poetic truth as opposed to literal truth. In short, where does “All the Presidents Men” fall on the scale between literal truth and poetic truth?
The end purpose of reviewing a film in is not to agree or disagree with it, but to know what is correct, incorrect or objectionable about it. Viewing or reading any film or book is central to reaching any conclusion and articulating a point of view. In some cases films or readings may be offensive. I argue that to understand a subject, students may need to actually know what it is about. In other words, if you dislike or like a film or book it is important to know why. That comes from critically reviewing a film or reading the book. It can strengthen a person’s argument, pro or con.
Students may choose to include references to and comparisons between the Watergate Era and the events during and after the Trump Administration. Checks and Balances in Congressional investigations, the Supreme Court, the Department of Justice and media coverage are most important in understanding the Checks and Balances concept found in Article One of the US Constitution.
See Film Summary, following page. Note that students must write an essay comparing and contrasting the accuracy of the two films. On the last page note what should be included in your essay. Please cite responsible sources at the end of the essay.
Some critics question the study of film as academic. However, many colleges and universities offer specific courses on film, television and music and how they alter the public perception. Defenders note that film and other modern arts impact the public perception history, politics and culture just as literature and the traditional arts.
If you utilize internet sources it is important to discern what is legitimate and what is not legitimate. Also included is an overview sheet to fill out with the essay. Enjoy the film with someone else. Please let me know if you have any questions.
View the films and compare and contrast the myths and realities of the times they reflect. Utilize the following information and seek views of the films via the internet. When using the internet it is important to filter and decipher credible sources. Remember to cite all sources. Fill out the attached review sheets and write a 3 to 5 page review of the films.
All the President’s Men, 1976, can be reviewed for credit. Acquire a copy of the film and review the accuracies and inaccuracies of the film through credible sources. Complete the attached form and complete the typed double-spaced essay giving and overview and analysis of the film.
All the President’s Men based on a book by Washington Post journalistsBob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who broke the scandal, chronologically unfolds the scandal from the arrest of the burglars who broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex in 1972, to the resignation of President Nixon in August 1974. The film unravels the ‘dirty tricks’ campaign orchestrated by rogue elements in CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect the President). Keep in mind that films may reflect more about the values and historical judgements of the times in which they were made than the era they portray. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman portray the reporters as they weave through a complex web of cover-up and the underbelly of American politics. The film, mixing recreated scenes with actual television footage, was highly acclaimed for its accuracy. Document A below further describes the film. Document B cites an interesting connection with Alabama politics during the period.
“Film as history, history as film”
All the President’s Men
Two obscure Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, portrayed by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, stumble onto the biggest political scandal in American history. Assigned to cover a
seemingly unimportant third-rate break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel & Office Complex in 1972, Woodward and Bernstein eventually tied the burglars to the Nixon re-election campaign. The investigation revealed a massive cover-up and taped conversations in the Oval Office that eventually led to the resignation of the President in August, 1974.
The investigation also revealed a sophisticated “dirty tricks” organization whose function was to sabotage political opponents and perceived enemies of the President. Donald Segretti, who headed the “dirty tricks” operations, vividly describes his work. The Congressional Watergate hearings later revealed the group’s involvement in the 1970 Alabama Governor’s race.
Actual news footage of the President and his men are woven into the suspense-filled film.
The filmmakers lead viewers through a web of political intrigue as Woodward and Bernstein, with the aid of a shadowy figure known only as “Deep Throat,” struggle to counter a resourceful campaign and White House. Some three dozen Nixon operatives in the White House and the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) were convicted and imprisoned.
Watergate and Alabama Politics
An odd footnote to the Watergate scandal involved an attempt by President Nixon’s operatives to influence the election for governor of Alabama in 1970. The Democratic Primary, then tantamount to the election, pitted Governor Albert Brewer of Decatur against his political mentor, former Governor and Presidential candidate George C. Wallace.
Wallace, long a controversial figure, had supported Brewer in his bid for Lieutenant Governor in 1966.
Unable to seek re-election, Wallace ran his wife Lurleen, who won handily with Brewer. When Lurleen died of cancer in 1968, Brewer was elevated to governor. Although Wallace had gained some 10 million votes and 46 Electoral Votes as a third-party candidate for President in 1968, he needed a platform to launch another bid for the presidency in 1972. Unwilling to persuade Brewer to step down, Wallace challenged and narrowly defeated his old protégé in one of the dirtiest and most racially charged campaigns in state history. One unproven political rumor throughout the campaign involved large sums of alleged out-of-state money secretly funneled into the state.
During the 1974 Congressional Watergate Hearings it was revealed that Nixon had indeed secretly channeled some 400 thousand dollars into the Brewer campaign. Nixon’s motive was not to assist Brewer, but to remove Wallace as a potential Third Party threat in the 1972 presidential campaign.
Nixon strategists hoped to eliminate Wallace from the national political scene by engineering his defeat in the 1970 governor’s election.
Wallace did run for president again in 1972, but not as a third-party candidate. Instead, he sought the Democratic nomination and was paralyzed in an assassination attempt in May. Wallace had won the Maryland and Michigan primaries and was leading other Democratic rivals in delegates to the Democratic National Convention.. Unable to secure the nomination in 1972 or again in 1976, Wallace returned to Alabama politics, where he served four terms as governor before retiring in 1987.
FILM REVIEWED____________________________________ RELEASE DATE __________________
I. LIST THREE THINGS YOU LEARNED FROM THIS FILM
II. WRITE A BRIEF STATEMENT DESCRIBING HOW THIS FILM RELATES TO OUR TOPIC OF
III. WRITE AN ESSAY AND INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: (2 PAGES TYPED, 4 WRITTEN)
1. GIVE AN OVERVIEW OF THE FILM, THE PLOT AND MAJOR SUB-PLOTS.
2. ADDRESS HISTORICAL OR FACTUAL INACCURACIES, THE FILM-MAKER’S USE
OF POETIC AND LITERAL TRUTHS AND ANY USE OF PROPAGANDA.
3. DISCUSS THE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND/OR CULTURAL IMPACT OF THE FILM AT
THE TIME OF ITS RELEASE AND/OR ANY LINGERING IMPACT ON SOCIETY.
4. IF THE FILM IS A ROMAN A CLEF, WHO DO THE CHARACTERS REPRESENT?
5. INCLUDE ANY RELEVANT INFORMATION OR OBSERVATIONS.
IV. RATE THIS FILM AS A LEARNING EXPERIENCE:
EXCELLENT _______ 1 _______ 2 _______ 3 _______ 4 _______ 5 _______ POOR
Watergate Score Card
PRESIDENT RICHARD M. NIXON
WHITE HOUSE STAFF
BOB HALDERMAN: Chief of White House staff; determined who could see the president
JOHN ERLICHMAN: In charge of White House organization for Domestic Affairs
DWIGHT CHAPLIN: Appointment Secretary; planned Nixon’s trips; advance man
CHARLES COLSON: Troubleshooter; liaison between Nixon and lobbies; in charge of public
relations for Nixon’s support; once said, “I would walk over my
grandmother if necessary to assure the president’s re-election”
RON ZEIGLER: Nixon’s Press Secretary
JOHN DEAN: The President’s attorney; said, “a cancer is growing on the presidency”
HERBERT KALMBACH: Nixon’s personal attorney
DIRTY TRICKS ARRANGED FROM THE WHITE HOUSE AND CREEP
E. HOWARD HUNT: Consultant to Chuck Colson in the White House; former CIA operative and
author of spy novels: Investigated Kennedy’s on Colson’s orders to satisfy
G. GORDON LIDDY: Counsel to CREEP; former FBI agent and former White House staffer
DONALD SEGRETTI: California lawyer who was hired by Kalmbach to conduct political sabotage
& “dirty tricks” campaign for Republicans; a USC college friend of Chapin
THE COMMITTEE TO RE-ELECT THE PRESIDENT (CREEP)
JOHN MITCHELL: Former Attorney General and Nixon’s law partner; director of CREEP from
March 1, 1972 to July 1, 1972; Nixon’s campaign manager and confident
JEB MAGRUDER: Deputy Director of CREEP
MAURICE STANS: Former Secretary of Commerce; Chairman of Finance Committee for CREEP
HUGH SLOAN: Treasurer of CREEP Finance Committee under Stans
GORDON STRACHAN: Former staff assistant to Haldeman; liaison between CREEP and Haldeman
CLARK MACGREGOR: New campaign manager who replaced Mitchell July 1
KENNETH PARKINSON: Attorney for CREEP
JOHN LARUE: Political aid to John Mitchell
BERNARD BARKER: Miami Florida realtor; former CIA Employee; took part in Bay of Pigs
FRANK STURGIS: Associate of Barker; participated in anti-Castro activities
EUGENEIO MARTINEZ: Member of Barker’s real estate firm and anti-Castro Cuban
JAMES MCCORD: Security coordinator for CREEP; former CIA and FBI agent
VIRGILIO GONZALES: Former locksmith who emigrated from Cuba
THE MONEY TRAIL
KENNETH DAHLBERG: Midwest finance chairman who forwarded a $25,000 check (donated by
Minneapolis grain executive Dwayne Andreas) to Maurice Stans, finance chair
of CREEP; The check turned up in Barker’s bank account in Florida after it
was laundered through Mexican banks.
DEEP THROAT In 2005 revealed to be former FBI Assistant Director Mark Felt.
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