All the President's Men | 1976
The third of Alan J Pakula’s excellent paranoia trilogy (following Klute and The Parallax View) which manages to make the potentially uncinematic uncovering of the Watergate story truly gripping, is brilliantly photographed around spookily benighted Washington DC locations by Gordon Willis.
Authenticity is all. The break-in was actually filmed in the Watergate Complex (not far from the Georgetown house used for The Exorcist), with Frank Wills – the very security guard who discovered the taped door – recreating the moment on the exact spot.
The Democratic offices were on the sixth floor of the complex at 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, west of downtown Washington DC (metro: Foggy Bottom). The Watergate Hotel was closed for renovation for a long time, but it's now back in business.
Base 1, the lookout, is stationed – as he was – on the balcony of Room 723 directly opposite, which is now Hall on Virginia Avenue, 2601 Virginia Avenue NW at New Hampshire Avenue, student housing for George Washington University. Until 1999 this was the Howard Johnson Motor Lodge but, sadly, you can no longer book the room used by the burglars.
It’s worth remembering that, post 9/11, there may be restrictions on visiting certain buildings, and security arrangements are subject to change.
Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) work out of the paper’s building at 1150 15th Street NW between L and M Streets, downtown DC (metro: Farragut North).
The movie’s city room, in which the pair worry away at the burglary story, is, however, an elaborate set built on soundstages at Warner Brothers’ Burbank lot. The 32,000 square-foot set cost half a million dollars, and the obsessive detail went further than just reproducing all 250 of the reporters’ and editors’ desks in their correct positions and the graphics on the walls – it went as far as filling the wastepaper baskets with real waste from the actual Post offices, correctly assigned to each department.
Genuine Washington DC locations include, of course, the Capitol Building – the entrance for tours is on East Capitol Street, Capitol Hill.
The magnificent circular reading room, where the duo sort through the White House book-request slips, is the domed, marble Main Reading Room in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue SE between East Capitol Street and Independence Avenue (metro: Capitol South, Union Station).
The concert building outside which Woodward catches a cab for his first assignation with enigmatic insider Deep Throat is the The John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW. The complex, which opened in 1971, houses two theatres, a concert hall and an opera house.
The highrise wilderness where Woodward keeps the rendezvous can be found over the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia, though, if you want to see the car park itself, you’ll need to visit Los Angeles. The sinister garage was beneath the former ABC Entertainment Center, 2000 Avenue of the Stars at Constellation Boulevard, currently being redeveloped in Century City.
Bernstein meets up with his phone company contact at the site of all those sixties anti-war demos, Lafayette Park, north of the White House, on Pennsylvania Avenue and H Street NW between Jackson and Madison Places (metro: Farragut West). The lead takes him to the ‘County Justice Building of Miami’ where he tricks his way into meeting official Martin Dardis (Ned Beatty).
The building is no more ‘Miami’ than it is Washington DC. It’s Los Angeles City Hall, 200 North Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles, the home of TV series Dragnet and Superman. Also in Los Angeles, you’ll find the burger joint where Woodward and Bernstein hatch the plot to get Sloane to confirm Haldeman’s name (McDonald’s in Santa Monica), and disgraced lawyer Donald Segretti’s apartment, which overlooks the Marina in Marina del Rey.
The FBI works out of the J Edgar Hoover FBI Building, 10th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, downtown Washington DC, though the interior of the building, where Woodward and Bernstein badger the agent, is, surprise, not the real FBI HQ at all, but once again Los Angeles City Hall. Due to security concerns, public tours of the FBI Building have been suspended indefinitely.