The setting of this film is the early 1970’s when Daniel Ellsberg copied the Pentagon Papers. The Papers were thousands of pages of classified documents with information about the involvement of the United States government in the Vietnam War. Ellsberg was a State department military analyst in Vietnam during 1966. He accompanied US troops in combat and documented the progress of the US military activities in the area for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Ellsberg copies the Papers and leaks them to the New York Times and they begin to publish the Pentagon Papers. The Post is desperate to get their hands on the Papers. The Times receives a court injunction to stop further publication. Reporter Ben Bagdikian tracks down Ellsberg and he gets copies of the papers for their paper to print. Newspaper heiress Katharine Graham weighs the consequences of the Post publishing the papers. Ben Bradlee is the current editor of the Post and he never questions publishing. Both the Times and the Post go before the Supreme Court for the right to publish the papers. Soon after, there is a break-in at the Watergate complex.
It’s important to already know who the characters are in this film or it becomes confusing. Especially important are the names of the top players and some of the reporters. Otherwise, it’s difficult to know what’s going on and who the people are. Ellsberg became disillusioned when he heard McNamara lying to reporters about the war as he exited a plane. If he’s lying now, he must have lied before? The papers Ellsberg copied told the truth and countered what had been reported. McNamara knew the US couldn’t win the war in 1965 and men were still being sent over there to possibly die. The war began in 1 November, 1955 and ended April 30, 1975.
116 min, Bio directed by Steven Spielberg with Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, Jess Plemons, David Cross.
Note: Imdb 7.2 out of 10, 87% critic 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3*, Amazon 3.7* out of 5* with 228 reviews, Metacritic 83 out of 100 with 51 critics 7* out of 10* with 313 reviews.
Special Note: Filmed in White Plains, New York City, Mamaroneck, Brooklyn, New Rochelle, New York. Named one of the top 10 films of the year by Time and the American Film Institute. All scenes with Richard Nixon in the Oval Office are from the White House tapes. The original copies of the papers from Daniel Ellsberg were used in the film scenes and scattered over the floor. The words “Top Secret” had already been cut from the bottom of the pages and that also cut off the page numbers. Spielberg wanted the film released quickly because of all the real news of ‘fake news.’ The time from script to final cut lasted 9 months. This film is dedicated to Nora Ephron, she was once married to reporter Carl Bernstein and he uncovered the Watergate scandal in 1972 along with Bob Woodward. Streep was surprised to learn that Spielberg never rehearses with his actors. Hanks knew this and he took delight in Streep’s surprise!!