ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN: With ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, director Alan Pakula adapts the best-selling book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Pakula created a film that takes its place among such important conspiracy dramas as THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. The focus is on the 1972 investigation of the break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters, otherwise known as the Watergate burglary. Through a complicated web of intrigue and secrecy that eventually involves the highest levels of government, hungry young journalists Woodward (Robert Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) of the Washington Post aggressively examine the incident, uncovering information that ultimately leads to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Exceptional performances by Redford and Hoffman are complemented by Jason Robards as the dubious but supportive executive editor at the Post, and Hal Holbrook's celebrated characterization of the mysterious informer Deep Throat. The pacing of the film is quick and exciting, drawing viewers into the action of one of the most intriguing mysteries in all of American political history.
DOG DAY AFTERNOON: Al Pacino plays a ferocious and fed-up bank robber in Lumet's classic film, DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Balancing suspense, violence, and humor, the film's depiction of a grand-scale media event craftily dives from the political to the personal, evoking a piercing portrait of a man and his devastating downward tumble as seen through the media circus that Lumet made a career of chronicling. Pacino is heartbreakingly real as Sonny, a smart yet self-destructive Brooklyn tough whose plan to rob the local bank to fund his male lover's (Chris Sarandon) sex change goes absurdly wrong. Accompanied only by his doltish accomplice, Sal (John Cazale), Sonny realizes that all the money had been removed before his arrival, and decides to kidnap a handful of bank employees instead. As the lengthy August day drags on, Sonny and hordes of local police, led by Sergeant Moretti (Charles Durning), make little progress, and eventually Sonny's wife and lover are brought to the scene. The crowd's sympathy is immediately captured by the charismatic Sonny, whose antagonism with the police is played out before an audience of millions, leading to an inevitably tragic finish.
NETWORK: With stunning prescience, Sidney Lumet's searing satire of television and the contemporary moment chronicles media corruption and the way that the public buys into the myths the media creates. The moral and spiritual turpitude delivered by the debilitating forces of television are rendered in sharp relief against a backdrop of crumbling humanity in what is regarded as one of the great satires in Hollywood history. With a visceral script from Paddy Chayefsky, NETWORK follows the doomed path of aging newsman Howard Beale (Peter Finch), who, upon learning that he is to be fired after decades as a news anchor, announces to millions of viewers that he will publicly commit suicide during his last broadcast. When the ratings consequently shoot up, hungry executive-in-training Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) seizes the moment to exploit Beale's Messianic nervous breakdown, turning his rage into the vehicle for the network's first Number One show and a nationwide craze. Who could have predicted that this 1976 film might someday influence an even more contagious trend in television broadcasting: the reality show?