Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (2017)
A review by Shlomoh Sherman
May 10, 2018

Read about Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House On the Internet Movie Data Base

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (2017
Plot Summary: The story of Mark Felt, who under the name "Deep Throat" helped journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncover the Watergate scandal in 1972.
Plot Keywords: whistleblower - reference to the weather underground - white house washington d.c. - washington monument washington d.c. - father daughter relationship
Director: Peter Landesman
Writers: Peter Landesman, Mark Felt (based on his book
Stars: Liam Neeson, Diane Lane, Marton Csokas
Genres: Biography - Drama - History - Thriller
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated PG-13 for some language
Parents Guide: See below
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: September 29, 2017 (USA)
Also Known As: The Secret Man
Box Office:
Opening Weekend USA: $34,217, October 1, 2017
Gross USA: $768,946, December 7, 2017
Company Credits:
Production Co: Endurance Media, MadRiver Pictures, Playtone
Runtime: 103 min
Color: Color
1 nomination: Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards 2017
Nominee Joe Barber Award - Best Portrayal of Washington, DC


We've all heard of "Deep Throat". No, not the porn film but the man who leaked information to the Washington Post about the Nixon coverup of the Watergate Hotel burglary attempt. At least those of my generation are familiar with the name.

This film is the story of Mark Felt, assitant director of the FBI, under Hoover, who became the whistle-blower with the infamous name.

For 31 years, Felt faithfully carried out the duties of his office and most people thought that when Hoover resigned [if ever], that he would step into the position as head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

So it was with angry resignation that Felt had to deal with Nixon bringing in L. Patrick Gray, a man completely devoid of law enforcement experience, to replace Hoover as the agency's head.

But the sense of betrayal that Mark Felt experienced wasn't his alone. His wife, Audrey Robinson Felt, was outraged. In her bitterness at the news that her husband had been passed over for the director's job, she complained that she had endured years of stress; they had moved 13 times during Felt's 31 year career, leaving good friends behind as they moved from city to city to keep up with Mark's career, placing stress on their young daughter's life. Through all this, Audrey said, what kept her able to focus on the future was the expectation that Mark would replace Hoover as director.

When the Watergate breakin was discovered, Felt, as a responsible law enforcement officer, was determined to fully investigate the matter and bring the perpetrators to justice.

But the Nixon White House had other plans. Richard Nixon had many failings but one good characteristic was his sense of loyalty. Unfortunately he chose to put his loyalty to the Watergate conspirators above his loyalty to the country as its leader. We know that this was his ultimate undoing.

While Felt persued the investigation of Watergate, Nixon had told Patrick Gray to wind up the investigation in 48 hours. When Gray passed this order on to Felt, Felt replied that he could not do it in all good conscience. He said that he wanted to get to the bottom of the issue no matter who might have been involved. After that, Nixon's White House allies attempted to stop him from proceeding with the investigation. When White House counsel John Dean called Felt and ordered him to close the investigation, Felt told him that the FBI was not under the jurisdiction of the White House and hung up. Dean was later charged with obstruction of justice and spent four months in prison for his role in the Watergate cover-up.

I'm not aware if Mark Felt ever made it clear why he decided to leak details of the Watergate coverup to the media. I can only speculate that in addition to seeing justice done, an internal ongoing grudge against Nixon for passing him over for the job as FBI director was also a motivation.

In his book, "A G-MAN'S LIFE: THE FBI, 'DEEP THROAT' AND THE STRUGGLE FOR HONOR IN WASHINGTON," Felt reveals that Audrey Robinson Felt shot herself in 1984 with his .38 service revolver after a long emotional and physical decline after the humiliation of the White House's treatment of her husband. Alcohol may also have played a role in Audrey Felt's decline, but Felt speaks about the strain his wife suffered as an FBI wife, and he ultimately blamed the government, charging it with killing his wife.

Mark Felt leaked to the Washington Post‘s reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Woodward is briefly featured in the film, which includes a version of the parking-garage meeting made famous by ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. But the film shows Felt meeting more often with TIME reporter Sandy Smith, who also covered the Watergate investigation. For example, when a Senator asked Patrick Gray about allegations that the FBI had wiretapped journalists, he cited a report in the March 5, 1973 issue of TIME.

Writer and director Peter Landesman said he chose not to focus on Woodward and Bernstein because, as he said, “Watergate is not the story of two reporters. It is the story of a [government system break-down]," and how one person had the integrity to divulge it.

Felt recived the nickname, "Deep Throat", a reference to a porn film popular at the time. Felt was asked during a grand jury interrogation whether he was, in fact, Deep Throat.

Woodward kept Felt’s identity as Deep Throat a secret for more than three decades. The account of Deep Throat’s activity in ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN does not convey all that Felt had to do to survive during Watergate. Nixon, and his aides, Dean, Haldeman, Mitchell, Kleindienst and Haig were all correct in suspecting Felt of being a chief source for Woodward and Bernstein. But he successfully covered his tracks and fooled them all. Nixon never came after him. And Mark Felt continued to do exactly what Nixon feared: tell Woodward and Bernstein secrets that would help destroy a presidency.

The final scene of the movie shows a real episode that Woodward recounted in his book about Felt, THE SECRET MAN.

At one point during a grand jury investigation about illegal break-ins by FBI agents, Felt says with a smile that he was such a frequent visitor at the White House that some people thought he was Deep Throat.”

One man on the grand jury raises his hand and asks, ‘Were you?’ "Was I what?" Felt asks.

"Were you Deep Throat?" Felt looks stunned and seems to go white.

In actual life, he said "No." Stanley Pottinger, the assistant attorney general heading the investigation, said, “I consider the question to be outside the bounds of our official investigation, so if you prefer, I’ll withdraw the question,”

But the film cuts off before Felt answers the question.

Read below, Natmeris's February 7, 2018 review and see how it compares with mine

Precise Editing and Plot.
February 7, 2018 - by Natmeris – See all my reviews
From the very beginning, in order to understand everything, you do have to pay close attention to each scene and dialogue. While the cutting in most areas of the movie is very precise and fine for the tone, there were a couple bits that seemed an odd transition. I found the story shown quite intriguing, though I have not looked in detail in the real-life story. The conclusion felt a bit anti-climatic, but it is an okay ending. I would consider this movie watchable if you enjoy a tense and a semi-complicated plot structure for a movie. I would even say it can be re-watched occasionally, though there is little humour displayed.

KUDOS to Liam Neeson, superbly playing Mark Felt. Ever since I first saw him in DARKMAN, I have been a fan.
KUDOS to Diane Lane as Audrey Felt. This beautiful actress has always turned me on. I love to watch her work. She is aging now and is still as beautiful and talented as ever.
KUDOS to Michael C. Hall as John Dean. I love to see Michael in whatever film he is in. First seen in SIX FEET UNDER as one of the mortuary owners, and later as the policeman serial killer in DEXTER, he is a pleasure to watch.
KUDOS to Tom Sizemore as Bill Sullivan, former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's intelligence operations. The website at IMDB says of him, "Tom Sizemore rose in prominence throughout the 1990s, establishing himself as a memorable tough-guy actor, sought by the most respected directors in the business." He usually plays the "heavy" in most of the films that I have seen him in

If you haven't yet seen Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House, it's available on Netflix. I highly recommend this movie.

Apparently much of Diane Lane's 'electric performance' was cut due to running time constraints. At a press conference director Peter Landesman and Liam Neeson both championed Lane's performance saying how devastated they all were (especially Lane herself) that so much of her superb performance was left on the cutting room floor. There were hints that these scenes may be included as 'deleted scenes' or as an 'extended cut' on the home video release of the film.
Mark Felt did not choose Bob Woodward at random from the Washington Post's roster of reporters. Felt and Woodward had known each other for a few years with the two having initially met one another while Woodward was serving in the U.S. Navy as an Admiral's aide. In fact Woodward had sought out Felt's advice on his future when his discharge from the Navy was approaching.
Two of the most famous figures in the exposure of the Watergate scandal, Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, are not at all important characters in this movie (Woodward, played by Julian Morris, appears only briefly, and Bernstein doesn't appear at all). Writer / director Peter Landesman told Time Magazine that this was a deliberate decision because he wanted to vary from the "prevailing Watergate narrative." Although Landesman did not mention this during his promotion of the film, his decision to omit any depiction of Bernstein may have also been influenced by the fact that Bernstein has in the past been notoriously difficult to deal with regarding his own portrayals in movies. In a March 2016 interview in Collider, Jacob Bernstein (a son of Carl Bernstein and Nora Ephron) said that the most challenging aspect of making Everything Is Copy, the 2015 documentary about Ephron, was the protracted negotiation with his own father about Bernstein's appearance in the film. And in that movie itself, Jacob Bernstein also says that his parents' divorce stretched on for years and was a great deal more complicated than most divorces in part because of his father's insistence on negotiating on the content of another movie, the film adaptation of Nora Ephron's roman a clef account of their breakup, Heartburn (in which Jack Nicholson played a thinly veiled version of Bernstein).
This is Eddie Marsan and Liam Neeson's first collaboration since Gangs of New York (2002).
Both Tony Goldwyn and Bruce Greenwood have played fictional Presidents (Goldwyn for Scandal (2009), Greenwood for National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007))
This will be Noah Wyle's first political drama since W. (2008).
This is the second film Tony Goldwyn has starred in that involved President Richard Nixon. He previously appeared in Nixon (1995).
Both Bruce Greenwood and Michael C. Hall have voiced Batman. Greenwood voiced Batman in Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) and Hall voiced the character in Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015).
This is the second time Peter Landesman has worked with either Scott Free or Playtone productions. The other Playtone movie Landesman directed was Parkland (2013) and the other Scott Free movie was Concussion (2015).
This is Eddie Marsan and Peter Landesman's first collaboration since Concussion (2015).
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Although it is not mentioned in the closing credits one of the main reasons Felt 'outed' himself as Deep Throat was that he was in the early stages of dementia (Felt was 91 at the time) and wanted to discuss the matter while he was still able to recall the details of the Watergate scandal.

There is a reference to Richard Nixon being named TIME Magazine's "Person of the Year" for 1972. TIME Magazine did not use the title "Person of the Year" until 1999. Nixon would have been named "Man of the Year" in 1972.
During one of the drive-around scenes in the DC area, the car passes by the World War II Veterans Memorial, which did not exist in the time frame of the movie.
The 1-yr old National Museum of African American History and Culture is visible in scenes of Washington DC at the beginning of the movie, which starts in 1972.
On several occasions Liam Neeson pronounces words in a non-American fashion. Examples include anyone and everybody, where he pronounces the vowel in the second syllable "ih" rather than "ee"; and the converse for been, where he pronounces the vowel "ee" rather than the American "ih".

Mark Felt: The White House is packing all its crimes in separate little boxes. Watergate, the spying, the ugliness, the rot. Each thing in a different box so that no one can put it together, so that no one sees it's all connected. And no one will care, but it's all the same big thing.
Sandy Smith: And Watergate? Just the gateway.
Bob Woodward: We're lost in detail.
Mark Felt: That's their plan. They want everyone confused. Confusion is control. The truth could ruin the administration.

Deep Throat Movie (1972)
The name of the secret source (Mark Felt) to the Washington Post nespaper, as in real life, was code-named "Deep Throat".


MPAA Rated PG-13 for some language

Sex & Nudity:
At the end, the protagonist's daughter and her friend are seen topless from the side while feeding a baby, no frontal nudity shown.

Violence & Gore:

Some few references to lovers and gay lovers.
Many goddamn's

Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking:
The protagonist and his wife are seen smoking and drinking in a few scenes.

Frightening & Intense Scenes:

Read about Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House On the Internet Movie Data Base

Cast overview, first billed only:
Liam Neeson ... Mark Felt
Diane Lane ... Audrey Felt
Marton Csokas ... L. Patrick Gray
Tony Goldwyn ... Ed Miller
Ike Barinholtz ... Angelo Lano
Josh Lucas ... Charlie Bates
Wendi McLendon-Covey ... Carol Tschudy
Kate Walsh ... Pat Miller
Brian d'Arcy James ... Robert Kunkel
Maika Monroe ... Joan Felt
Michael C. Hall ... John Dean
Tom Sizemore ... Bill Sullivan
Julian Morris ... Bob Woodward
Bruce Greenwood ... Sandy Smith
Noah Wyle ... Stan Pottinger

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