How hopeful for our future that Hollywood produced a prequel that’s not fiction about a galaxy far, far away. Released 42 years after Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman won hearts for journalism on the big screen, The Post is what happened just before All the President’s Men—the story of the story that finally took United States troops out of Vietnam.   

At its locus is Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys), who you could think of the Edward Snowden of the analog era. The sheer mechanics of his leaking thousands of pages of top-secret Pentagon files to the New York Times required months of late-night copy sessions on a machine half the size of a Volkswagen. (From typewriters to rotary phones, hot lead setters and the printing press, it’s a kick to watch the machines in the movie—all thrummed along by an emotional score from John Williams.)

When the paper was halfway through a front-page series, a judge enjoined the Times against printing any more about the top-secret documents, and the competing Post got in on the story. Director Steven Spielberg focuses on the evolution of publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) at the side of pirate editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) as they navigate the choppy waters that ensue.

Streep’s Graham is more heroine in our book than Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and we’d make the argument that her courage as the head of her father’s newspaper, a woman in a man’s world, is a bigger stride for feminism than swordfighting in a skirt. It’s her newspaper now. (Or it was, until it went public—and now, um Amazon has it or something, but that’s another story.) Hanks brings to Bradlee the gravely voice and straight-from-the-newsroom aggression that the editor was known for, and Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) is a treasure as tenacious reporter Ben Bagdikian. We can’t wait to hear some of these iconic lines again.

+Squee! A journo movie done right!
-Protesting crowd scenes were over-the-top

The Post
Directed by Spielberg
With Streep, Hanks and Odenkirk
Regal, Violet Crown, PG-14, 116 min.