In May 1940, the fate of Western Europe hangs on British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Adolf Hitler, or fight on knowing that it could mean a humiliating defeat for Britain and its empire.
Kristin Scott Thomas
During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
When American military analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, realizes to his disgust the depths of the US government's deceptions about the futility of the Vietnam War, he takes action by copying top-secret documents that would become the Pentagon Papers. Later, Washington Post owner, Kay Graham, is still adjusting to taking over her late husband's business when editor Ben Bradlee discovers the New York Times has scooped them with an explosive expose on those papers. Determined to compete, Post reporters find Ellsberg himself and a complete copy of those papers. However, the Post's plans to publish their findings are put in jeopardy with a Federal restraining order that could get them all indicted for Contempt. Now, Kay Graham must decide whether to back down for the safety of her paper or publish and fight for the Freedom of the Press. In doing so, Graham and her staff join a fight that would have America's democratic ideals in the balance.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The film's last scene implies that the Watergate break-in occurred after the Pentagon Papers were published and the Supreme Court decision upheld the right of the press to do so. However security guard Frank Wills discovered a break-in by five men at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex on June 17, 1972. The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers, June 18, 1971. One day after the break-in. See more »
Someone said this at some point about why we stayed when we knew we were losing. Ten percent was to help the South Vietnamese. Twenty percent was to hold back the Commies. Seventy percent was to avoid the humiliation of an American defeat. Seventy percent of those boys just to avoid being humiliated? That stuck with me.
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The 20th Century Fox logo is shown, but we do not hear the usual fanfare. Instead, we just hear the sound effects of the action in Vietnam which leads into the first scene of the film. See more »
Stodgy and slipshod Spielbergian historical tribute
Much to my surprise, I found Spielberg's account of the Washington Post's constitutional battle with the Nixon Administration over the Post's audacious and impulsive decision to publish the leaked Pentagon Papers in 1971 to be mildly prosaic and detached. It definitely lacks the raw drama it was obviously angling for and key scenes came across as tentative and sloppy.
Despite an impactful, committed performance by Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post who helped crush gender barriers in journalism and a lively turn by Tom Hanks as the brash and swaggering Ben Bradlee, editor of the Post, this film suffers from a lack of depth and a surprisingly scattershot approach to the story by Spielberg. A viewer would be forgiven for coming away with a flawed understanding of the Pentagon Papers because the film is more about how the Washington Post came into national prominence by defying the White House in publishing documents the government claimed as top secret and vital to U.S. military success in Vietnam.
Some might argue that this film should be watched and evaluated more deliberately but when Spielberg himself rushed through the material and the filmmaking process, it's harder to claim that the viewer has missed something. With this much proven talent on both sides of the camera, haste makes waste. Not recommended.
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