All the President's Men : One of my favorite scenes ever

One of my favorite scenes ever

Is when Robert Redford calls up Kenneth Dahlberg on the phone. The entire scene is one take. There are 4 different conversations on the phone, tons of choreography done by extras in the background and the camera slowly pans from a wide shot showing the office to just showing Redford. Just brilliant!

"Happy birthday, Euclid"

I Couldn't Agree More

Six minutes of sheer cinematic brilliance. One single, unbroken take - no cuts.

The sequence begins with Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) making a phone call while (over his right shoulder) the rest of the Washington Post newsroom is directing their attention at a television monitor: McGovern has decided to dump Eagleton from the Democratic ticket, and it's a big story. But Woodward is pursuing a story that's even bigger. In a series of phone calls, he learns the money trail from a Watergate burglar's bank account leads directly into the Nixon White House. With almost imperceptible camera movement (thanks to masterful, state-of-the-art cinematography by Gordon Willis), the rest of the newsroom slips out of view until the audience is looking at a close-up of Woodward. And Robert Redford's performance here is nothing short of breathtaking; his face registers everything - anger, frustration, hope, desperation, shock and elation - and not for one single moment does he go overboard. At one point he's so overwhelmed by the magnitude of the information he's uncovered he mistakenly refers to Kenneth Dahlberg as "Mr. MacGregor" (an individual he'd been speaking to earlier in the sequence) - and it's such a genuine, believable slip-of-the-tongue that I still can't tell if it was scripted or not.

Alan Pakula's film is filled with great sequences, but this one is perhaps the most beautifully realized of them all.

Re: I Couldn't Agree More

Yeah i thought it was a flawless job of directing by Alan Pakula. Plus Robert Redford is amazing, his subtleties in that scene especially are great. And i'm with you that part where he calls him Mr. MacGregor is fantastic. I just love this movie. I can't believe Hal Holbrook didn't get nominated for Supporting Actor, his presence and tone were just perfect.

"Happy birthday, Euclid"

Re: I Couldn't Agree More

If you haven't watched the special edition w/Redford's commentary, then you really should check it out. He mentions that this scene is one of his proudest moments as an actor; not just for what he was able to do, but the way Gordon Willis was able to film the scene. And in the trivia section: it says that when he called Dahlberg Mr. MacGregor, that it truly was a mistake on Redford's part, but he was able to stay in character and play it off like it was scripted. Film making at its best. I watched it again last night for the umpteenth time.

Re: I Couldn't Agree More

I finally just saw ATPM about 2 weeks ago on some Blockbuster copy and it was bare on the special features. I've gotta hunt down the one with the commentary and buy it. Love that movie and i love that scene!

"Happy birthday, Euclid"

Re: I Couldn't Agree More


Six minutes of sheer cinematic brilliance.

The entire MOVIE is cinematic brilliance. So glad to see there are other besides myself who recognize this.

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

Yeh, Robert Redford blows my mind in this scene and in this film. I watched it because I'm a Hoffman fan and came out being the biggest Redford fan.(Not to mention his dashing good looks.)

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

I actually read this before I watched the movie again so I took care to notice it. You're right - it's a great shot! The movie has several great long takes. Another one that stands out is the one right after they "confirm" Haldeman is the fifth man and Bernstein runs to Woodward and then they both run to the boss' office. Great stuff.

What's the Spanish for drunken bum?

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

And how did Redford or Hoffman not get nominated for this, they were both brilliant. Robards deservedly won.

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

Yes! Absolute genius. That is also my favorite scene. A fine example of film making as a true art form. This movie is one of my all time favorites. Top 10. I can't believe that neither Redford nor Hoffman were nominated in the best actor category.

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

i think the original posters point out something really insightful about the casting here. typically, redford is pretty bland as an actor. he looks good for the ladies, or appears to have it all together in all the right ways or whatever, but he is pretty understated when you think of big names like deniro/pacino, nicholson, hoffman, even beatty - none of the fire for our buddy redford. even eastwood handles the deadpan stare with a lot more passion, more brio, more nuance. and yet, in this film, pakula and/or casting director(s) picked up on that subtlety and played redford as an intuitive journalist working off the intelligence of his fellows (hoffman, robards, balsam) and picking up the rolling snowball's energy until he busts the big one. redford smoulders here in a way i don't recall him doing in any other film. and it works, brilliantly.

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

There is a similar scene with Hoffman when he is talking to John Mitchell which has my two favorite lines..."what time is it...11 am? No it's 11 at night sir" and when Mitchell said the famous line "Katie Graham's gonna get her t@$ caught in a big fat wringer if that's published!"...during this scene they have a close-up of Hoffman writing down everything fast to get the quote right and the phone falls off his shoulder and he keeps writing so he doesn't miss what was said. Excellent direction and very intense.

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever


redford is pretty bland as an actor


Yeah, right.

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

Yes-I agree. I just rewatched this movie for the first time since it came out. I had always found Redford's acting to be very bland (I nearly went screaming out of the theater during his stultifying performance in "The Way We Were") but he does show energy here.

I thought the casting for this movie was dead on.

A DP Question: How Did They Get This Shot…

Seems to be done with a split focus lens... But then becomes a single plane of focus.

Anyone know?

Re: A DP Question: How Did They Get This Shot…

From the trivia section (though Redford basically says the same thing on the film's commentary track) -


Director of Photography Gordon Willis shot the scene where Bob Woodward talks on the phone to Ken Dahlberg in one take. He used a split diopter, which allows both the foreground and background to be in focus at the same time. That take is one long zoom shot.

The white pillar to Redford's left is pretty much the dividing line.

Re: A DP Question: How Did They Get This Shot…

They just don't make films like this anymore

'Ziggy Piggy'

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever


Six minutes of sheer cinematic brilliance. One single, unbroken take - no cuts.





------- __@
----- _`\<,_
---- (*)/ (*)------- ----__@
--------------------- _`\<,_
---- -----------------(*)/ (*)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~nec spe,nec metu

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

Another little ditty of a scene I like is when Bernstein is talking to the White House librarian. She comes back on the line obviously rattled and tries to cover her tracks. But what I love about it all is how Bernstein/Hoffman simply says nothing but Ohhhh. He doesn't prompt her in any way but remains silent letting her paint herself further and further into a corner. It seems like an eternity as he lets her struggle to do damage control in the hope of letting some useful information slip. But only after realizing this can't work indefinitely does he then try to ask her something but she's so rattled by that time she just quits and hangs up. Nothing outstanding but I did admire the subtlety of it.

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

I love these type of longer scenes that are done in one take where all the acting, script and necessary background orchestration congeals into something that works perfectly. Other examples are in Goodfellas when Hill walks his girl into the Copacabana though all the pathways and kitchen and finally into the audience where the performer starts his routine; and the long uninterrupted shot in Children of Men where they go into the building under attack and out again (to complicated a scene to explain fully here).

Anyway I'm happy others appreciate this scene a lot. The following is my reply to another post about this scene(edited):

"Some of the subtle cinematic techniques I appreciated were (in letterbox):

2) Then when Woodward finally connect of the phone with Ken Dahlberg about the $25,000 check winding up in the account of one of the burglars. Note the very slow pan into Woodward. The camera gets closer and closer to him as he tries to get info out of the guy, the guy hangs up, Woodward's mind is working, calls Clark McGregor who gives him talking points, get's back on the phone with Dahlberg while still talking with McGregor, gets a surprising revelation, reacts, etc. It starts with a full shot of him at his desk and zooms into a full face close up over the period of about 4 and a half minutes. Go to it and if you have it on DVR see it on double speed to accentuate the effect. The scene takes about 6 minutes total with no cuts. Pretty good job by Mr. Redford.

1) when Woodward and Bernstein would start working together. They were first obscured to each other by line of sight, also separated by desk areas. Woodward noticed that Bernstein would be hovering over his work. Then they would be discussing Bernstein's talk with the librarian at the White House Library closer together yet still separated a little by a short cubicle separator. Then they wind up going to to the Library of Congress together, yet with Bernstein walking briskly in the lead to give separation. And finally rubbing shoulders together in the rotunda of the Library of Congress going over the paperwork. Basically a slow convergence of the far to close working together evolution.

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever



redford look a like Brad Pitt did more or less the same thing in 'MoneyBall'

only he didn't have hoffman, he had jonah hill

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

That scene was superbly done. Love that Redford gets the guy's name on the phone wrong towards the end, but since he stayed in character it was kept in the film.

Happy Birthday, Motherfucker!

Re: One of my favorite scenes ever

Yeah, I like that scene as well.
Top