This June marks the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, and America’s most notorious political scandal has proven plenty inspirational for filmmakers over the years. President Richard M. Nixon’s downfall and eventual resignation has been portrayed in movies as diverse as All the President’s Men, Nixon and the teen comedy Dick, and joining their ranks this month is the new Starz limited series Gaslit, premiering April 24. Based on the podcast Slow Burn, the show shines a light on lesser-told stories from the scandal, with Sean Penn, 61, starring as Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Julia Roberts, 54, playing his wife, Martha, a conservative woman who nonetheless is credited as the first person to publicly accuse Nixon of being connected to the break-in. Here, a watch list of films that will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about the history-changing crime and cover-up.
The movie: All the President’s Men (1976)
The Nixon: Archival footage
The premise: Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman, now 84) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford, 85) take center stage in this Oscar-winning political thriller about the race to uncover the president’s crimes, which landed the duo at number 27 on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest heroes in American movie history. Jason Robards won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role as Ben Bradlee; the Post executive editor reportedly told him before filming, “Just don’t make me look like an a–hole.” The film is perhaps best remembered for Deep Throat’s famous line “Follow the money,” which has since become a part of the American lexicon.
The movie: Secret Honor (1984)
The Nixon: Philip Baker Hall
The premise: Philip Baker Hall goes it alone in this tour-de-force solo performance, which Roger Ebert called “one of the most scathing, lacerating and brilliant movies of 1984.” Directed by Robert Altman, the film sees Nixon ranting and pacing around his office, speaking his stream-of-consciousness thoughts into a tape recorder, surrounded by closed-circuit TVs, a loaded pistol, a bottle of Scotch and portraits of Lincoln, Kissinger, Eisenhower and his mother. In a long and rambling monologue, he reminisces about his Quaker roots, rails against his political enemies (and frenemies) and reveals his true feelings about the Watergate scandal. (Did we mention it’s all totally made up?)