“This is going to be a factual movie.”
-Richard E. Snyder, executive vice president of Simon and Schuster, publisher of All the President’s Men.
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
The film All The Presidents is based from the written account of the investigation on the Watergate scandal in the book of the same name, written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. The book was published in 1974, a mere two years after the commencement of the Watergate investigation, by Simon and Schuster. All The President’s Men is a detailed account of the Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalism carried out by Bernstein and Woodward. The book is a compilation of all that these two journalists discovered while working for the Washington Post. Written as a first hand account by the men that were actually there for the events, and based from their reports published in the Post, the book All The President’s Men is an incredibly accurate and factual telling of the events that transpired from the break in at the at the watergate hotel in June 1972, to the forced resignation of Haldeman and Erlichman in April 1973 (Woodward 309-311).
The book All The President’s Men was adapted for the silver screen by the screenwriter William Goldman. Under the directorship of Alan J. Pakula, Goldman based his screen play from the book by Bernstein and Woodward. Goldman’s initial screenplay did not live up to Pakula’s standards, he sent copies to Woodward and Bernstein at the Washington Post and they also thought the script inadequate. In Alan J. Pakula: His Films and His Life, executives at the Washington Post are quoted as saying, “If you make this movie, you’ve got us against you. This guy (Goldman) is trivializing everything, he makes it sound like it was a joke” (155). The success of this film would be greatly impacted by the willingness of the Post to cooperate and help the film makers represent the historical account accurately. Pakula arranged meetings with Bernstein and Woodward as well as Robert Redford, the man funding the film as well as playing the part of Woodward, to go over the script and rework the parts that were inadequate. Bernstein even went so far as to write his own script and give it to Goldman who read through it, using parts to incorporate into his own (Shales et. all). After many revisions the Washington Post was finally happy with the way the script represented the historical events as well as how the Post would be represented in the film.
See full screen play here.
As with most book to film adaptations, there are always things that are left out or spiced up to meet the entertainment needs of movie goers. Through the combined effort of William Goldman, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, Alan Pakula and Robert Redford the script of All The President’s Men became a work of art that does a very good job of telling the story as it really occurred. The movie did fall subject to some minor changes to fit the entire story into a feature length film or in some cases render it more entertaining, but the influence that Bernstein and Woodward had, through their factually accurate book and invaluable advice on the screen plays portrayal of events, helped to ensure accuracy in the final script.