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 (email@example.com)
This is Liz Hannah's first produced screenplay which was picked up as a spec script on the Black List website by producer Amy Pascal. See more »
When Kay is talking to McNamara his watch is at ten to two. In the next scene Bradlee, in the same time zone is speaking to his lawyers and his watch is at two thirty but when we get back to Kay and McNamara his watch is still at ten to two. See more »
Dlsclaimer in closing credits: "Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation did not receive any payment or other consideration, or enter into any agreement, for the depiction of tobacco products in this 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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