The decision to publish brought the paper into conflict with the administration of President Richard Nixon, and brought to prominence America's first female newspaper publisher, Kay Graham, played in the film by Meryl Streep. You can see more of her movie previews and reviews weekdays at 9 am.
It's certainly the Time's Up-iest. Among the biggest revelations: US leaders knew that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable but kept sending troops to Southeast Asia, to kill and be killed.
Released in the United Kingdom on Friday 19 January, The Post tells the real-life story of Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and proprietor Kay Graham, who published the classified Pentagon Papers in 1971.
Mr. Bradlee was Ben Bradlee (an agreeably blustering Tom Hanks), the legendary editor of the Post under Graham.
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 USA involvement in Vietnam stretching back to the Truman administration. The White House was so enraged that two days later, citing national security concerns, the paper was hit with a temporary injunction against publishing any further stories about those documents.
But "The Post" isn't a valediction to a vanishing era, but a call to arms for the new one.
The Times ran three front-page stories based on the information in the papers, before being ordered to cease, pending a a court case to test the legality of publication. In order to scoop the rest of the country, the Post has 10 hours. "Tom steps outside of anything we've seen before". And he warns her early in the movie that the Times will be publishing news about him in an unflattering way. But can they take that chance given the possible consequences - a probable shut down of the paper and risk jail time for the editor-publisher duo. But Bradlee maintains that the documents must be published, and continues to argue with the understandably indecisive Graham.
Given what we know, the picture does a reasonable job of generating suspense as Bradlee and his team scramble to get their hands on a copy of the report so the Post can become a player by picking up where the Times left off.
"When you're told time and time again that you're not good enough, that your opinion doesn't matter as much, when they don't just look past you, when to them you're not even there, when that's been your reality for so long, it's hard not to let yourself think it's actually true". But it's not as simple as just typing up the stories and placing them in the paper; there are deep legal concerns, so the paper's lawyers (played by Jesse Plemons and Zach Woods) raise the questions they need to ask to get clearance to either print or hold the story.
"I'm also pleased we own half of Fargo's cable company", she wrote.
Speaking of Paulson, a regular nominee for "American Horror Story" and a victor for "American Crime Story", it's as though Spielberg placed copies of the script in gift bags at the Emmys.
It was already decided that Tuesday night's gala at Cipriani's in midtown Manhattan would belong to "The Post". Graham is obviously hesitant to follow his lead as her financial advisers are warning her against it, fearing that potential new investors will be scared off; the fear of staining her father's legacy preys on her mind as well, as he began the paper, giving it to her husband before she took control herself after his suicide.