What's it like to work with Spielberg? "Terrifying!" says 'Post' actor

Lester Mason
January 13, 2018

Will you see this movie?

Though all of that happened in the early '70s, Graham was still just as resolved when she talked about that time several years later in an interview for a video series produced by Poynter in 1985. Where The Post fits in is something that might surprise you, but suffice it to say, that movie has definitely earned its place in the following group.

It's based on a true story that created a crisis for the Nixon administration. Spielberg, with the aid of terrific actors including Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, chronicles the days that lead up to the Post, then largely a local newspaper, publishing the papers.

Graham played a vital role in history, not just because she was the first female publisher in the country, but because of making this hard decision to publish the papers and the information they contained about the Vietnam War, despite government officials and lawyers trying to deter her from doing so. In 1971, he decides to release the top-secret documents.

Bradlee fumes and orders his staff to play catch-up. Once he does, he brings them to Bradlee's home, which becomes a sort of remote newsroom for a team of reporters who pore over the thousands of pages of documents, attempting to distill them into a narrative.

Set in 1971 in Washington, D.C., Spielberg's "The Post" is based on the fascinating true story of the Pentagon Papers, a revealing and extensive series of documents that exposed backroom US involvement in Vietnam stretching back to the Truman administration. She's tight with Defense Secretary Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood) and expected to woo potential investors when Bradlee (Tom Hanks) pushes for publication.

The Post is Spielberg's clear and passionate ode to the adversarial press, and not only is it a refreshing departure from his past work, it also turns out to be a good fit for his slick storytelling style.

During Sunday's Golden Globe Awards, host Seth Meyers joked about the possibility of an Oprah presidency (with Hanks as her VP).

What gives the film power in the final act isn't just the newspaper's decision to publish the bombshell details of government lies and failures in the war with Vietnam, but the slow and steady steeling of Post Publisher Katherine Graham. Modern audiences may be taken aback at the easy sexism that Streep's Graham faces in almost every scene, and impressed with the easy grace with which she handles it. But when the Post's fortunes and her family's legacy are on the line, she shows a resolve to make the tough calls - sometimes going against male advisers who urge her to do the opposite.

It opens Friday, and you can sleep soundly in the knowledge that despite The Post's inherent narrative flaws, it's a Spielberg flick. "The Post" tells of a great moment in journalism - and a great moment in one remarkable woman's life. Those men are represented by a Who's Who of character actors, including Tracy Letts, Bradley Whitford, Michael Stuhlbarg and David Cross.

The film makes a powerful statement on journalistic integrity and the crucial role of a free press in a democracy. It's an old-school movie in the very best of ways: a story-driven drama that's paced nearly like a thriller, taking us back to days when newspapers were assembled in hot type by men in fedoras (well, maybe that's a costume designer's flourish, but I'd like to believe it) and when suspense could be conveyed by some extremely dramatic Xeroxing.

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