Screenwriter William Goldman famously pronounced that, "One way an author dies a little each day is when his books go out of print." If that's true, then surely Goldman will live on forever in his iconic screenplays and screenwriting books. His writing on screenwriting is almost as legendary as his screenplays, one of which, All The President's Men, is available to read and download online. This great political thriller about the Watergate scandal is an example of economical, suspenseful writing. Read the script online and listen to an interview with Goldman below!
When Richard Nixon had members of his staff break in to the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel, he set in motion a chain of events that would end with his resignation and a scandal that loomed over the nation for several years. Another consequence was Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodard's non-fiction book about the events, as well the classic film adaptation of it, All The President's Men, which was released in 1976.
The film starred Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, was directed by Alan J. Pakula, and scripted by Goldman. The taut thriller follows the two reporters as they track down leads, including their infamous source, "Deep Throat," in order to get to the truth of what the Nixon administration was willing to do in order to win the 1972 election:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fLdCZm7qgs
Here's a link to Goldman's screenplay, who also authored The Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride and Misery, among many others, as well as several books. He's not a fan of his own work, and has been quoted as saying, "I don't like my writing," but there are many, many who would beg to disagree.
Check out the John Cleese/William Goldman interview that touches on all sorts of topics, like screenwriting (7:17), the state of cinema in 1991 (pretty much the entire middle section), and how to tell if your film is a success (23:43).
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What do you think? What's your opinion of All The President's Men and other 70's political thrillers, and what lessons do you think Goldman has to teach the indie screenwriter?
Link: All the President's Men screenplay -- Cinephilia and Beyond
Great post. Thanks for both the script and the interview.
Love this film. Got a soft spot for 70's political thrillers - Parralax View and Domino Principle - but this is the film that they will all be judged on forever more. It's nigh-on perfect.
July 12, 2013 at 9:13AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Nice shout out for Parallax View. I did my Masters on this phase of American film. Only now are you beginning to see work of equal quality (and yeah, its on TV).
July 12, 2013 at 10:15AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
What other films in the political thriller genre do recommend?
July 12, 2013 at 1:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
From that time? Not directly political all of them, but others full of the paranoia of the era: The Conversation, 3 Days of The Condor, Klute (anything directed by Alan J Pakula really) and try finding a copy of the mad Winter Kills.
July 13, 2013 at 10:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
If you're in the mood for the international political thrillers, you may consider "Confessione di un commissario di polizia al procuratore della repubblica" (1971) ("Confession of the Police Captain" in the US but, more accurately, "Confession of the Chief of Police to the Attorney General", by Damiano Damiani, with Martin Balsam, Franco Nero, et al) There are two versions of the "Quiet American", with the remake made in 2001 with camera work by the recent NFS subject of affection Christopher Doyle (Michael Caine won the Oscar for it). Then there's Bernardo Betolucci's "Il Conformista" (The Conformist", 1970), with Jean Louis Trintignant in the title role and the visuals by then fairly unknown Vittorio Storaro.
July 13, 2013 at 8:21PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Great film - an economical thriller that holds up well today. Proves you can have high stakes and intensity without explosions, gunfire, or monsters.
July 12, 2013 at 9:30AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
I also recommend Goldman's book "Adventures in the Screen Trade", where he recounts of joys of working with Redford ... (the two of them weren't the best of buddies).
July 12, 2013 at 11:10AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
Yeah, that's a great book.
July 12, 2013 at 12:45PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
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July 21, 2013 at 7:33PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM
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September 17, 2013 at 5:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM