Movie Review: THE POST

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks appear together for the first time in Steven Spielberg's new film, THE POST, a historical drama set at the Washington Post newspaper in 1971.

The movie is a rousing defense of freedom of the press in the form of an entertaining thriller based on actual historical events.

The issue was: Should the Washington Post risk being charged with treason to publish excerpts from the leaked Pentagon Papers, a huge study which showed that four U.S. presidents had lied to the public about the Viet Nam War?

Hanks as editor Ben Bradlee: The Times says 7,000 pages detailing how the White House has been lying about the Viet Nam War for 30 years.

The New York Times published the first excerpts of the Pentagon Papers, but the White House got an injunction preventing them from printing any more of them.

As Post editor Ben Bradlee, Tom Hanks is certain that his paper will get its own copies of the study leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the Times.

But it's the always brilliant Meryl Streep as Post publisher Katherine Graham who has to make the decision about whether to publish if they do get copies.

Bradlee: So can I ask you a hypothetical question?

Graham: Oh, dear. I don't like hypothetical questions.

Bradlee: Well, I don't think you're gonna like the real one either.

Graham: Do you have the papers?

Bradlee: Not yet.

Graham: Oh gosh, oh gosh, because you know the position that would put me in.

THE POST tells the impressive coming-of-age story of Katherine Graham, who was named publisher of the paper after her husband died.

In the male dominated world of journalism, she was a newcomer who needed to find her own voice at the same time as she was learning her job.

Lawyer: People are concerned about having a woman in charge of the paper. That she doesn't have the resolve to make the tough choices.

Graham (smiling): Thank you Arthur for your frankness.

2nd Lawyer: If you publish, we'll be at the Supreme Court next week.

Graham: Meaning?

Bradlee: We could all go to prison.

Robert McNamara to Graham: Nixon will muster the full power of the Presidency and if there's a way to destroy you, by God, he'll find it.

Graham: I'm asking your advice, Bob, not your permission.

Bradlee: What are you going to do Mrs. Graham?

THE POST is a stirring celebration of freedom of the press. In a year when journalism faces constant criticism from the current president, the film could hardly be more timely.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.