All the King's Men (1949) - Rotten Tomatoes

All the King's Men (1949)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Broderick Crawford is spellbinding as politician Willie Stark in director Robert Rossen's adaptation of the Robert Penn Warren novel about the corrosive effects of power on the human soul.

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Movie Info

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men is a roman à clef inspired by the career of Louisiana governor Huey Long. Broderick Crawford won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Willie Stark, a backwoods Southern lawyer who wins the hearts of his constituents by bucking the corrupt state government. Journalist Jack Burden (John Ireland) is impressed by Willie's seeming sincerity, and aids Stark on the road to political power. Once he's reached the governor's mansion, however, Willie proves himself to be as dishonest and despotic as the crooks whom he's replaced. He also cheats shamelessly on his wife with both his campaign manager (Mercedes McCambridge, another Oscar winner) and with Anne Stanton (Joanne Dru), the sister of idealistic doctor Adam Stanton (Sheppard Strudwick). Fiercely protective of his power, Willie organizes a fascistic police force and arranges for "accidents" to befall those who oppose him; even so, he retains the love of the voters by lowering the poverty level, improving the school system, and financing building projects. Even when Willie all but orchestrates the suicide of Anne's uncle, a highly respected judge (Raymond Greenleaf), those closest to him are unable to escape his power and the charismatic hold he has over people. Stockton, CA, stands in for the unnamed state capitol where most of the film's action occurs. In addition to its Oscars for Crawford and McCambridge, All the King's Men won the Best Picture prize. Warren's novel would later be adapted into a stage play, a TV special, and even an opera.
Rating:
PG
Genre:
Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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Cast

Broderick Crawford
as Willie Stark
Mercedes McCambridge
as Sadie Burke
John Derek
as Tom Stark
Joanne Dru
as Ann Stanton
John Ireland
as Jack Burden
Shepperd Strudwick
as Adam Stanton
Ralph Dumke
as Tiny Duffy
Anne Seymour
as Lucy Starke
Katherine Warren
as Mrs. Burden
Raymond Greenleaf
as Judge Stanton
Walter Burke
as Sugar Boy
Will Wright
as Dolph Pillsbury
Grandon Rhodes
as Floyd McEvoy
H.C. Miller
as Pa Stark
William Bruce
as Commissioner
A.C. Tillman
as Sheriff
Truett Myers
as Minister
Phil Tully
as Football coach
Helene Stanley
as Helene Hale
Judd Holdren
as Politician
King Donovan
as Reporter
Ted French
as Dance caller
Louis Mason
as Minister
Paul Maxey
as Local chairman
Pat O'Malley
as Politician
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News & Interviews for All the King's Men

Critic Reviews for All the King's Men

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (7)

It is one of the most vital and honest films to come out of Hollywood in a long time.

Full Review… | February 20, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

A poisonous political process from our not-so-distant past dominates Robert Rossen's classic film about the rise of a Southern demagogue.

Full Review… | February 19, 2013
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

It is a film that vividly impresses, with dramatic sureness the chicanery of politics as have been practiced in the past and may crop up again.

Full Review… | February 19, 2008
Variety
Top Critic

A fine adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer novel.

August 16, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

Today, its realism seems bland, its moralizing forced.

Full Review… | December 12, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Not only has this movie stood the test of time, but its content is as uncomfortable and relevant today as it was the day the film premiered.

Full Review… | September 21, 2006
ReelViews
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for All the King's Men

½

A regional politician rises to power but loses his grip on his principles along the way. The original man-ruined-by-the-system story, All the King's Men doesn't have much over its Sean Penn remake or the more modern The Candidate. The performances are all fine, but the story, which is compelling at its base, doesn't fully explore what motivates Willie's descent. Power-hungry characters aren't compelling if they're not power-hungry in ways with which we can identify. Overall, in this case, the imitations are better than the original.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

½

This interesting play on the old maxim about absolute power corrupting absolutely could've spent a wee bit more time actually looking at corruption itself instead of choosing to simply imply that it's there. We get to see characters capitulating their morals, but not to know why. As well there's enough of a faint taste of "member dat good ol' a-ris-to-crazy ... dey was sho' good to us!" to have one looking for something to cleanse the palate. Nonetheless riveting work ...

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

A great example of how politics really works, through corruption and dishonesty. There's a fantastic cast in this film as well. This one is definitely worth a watch if you're interested in political films, or if you're just looking for a movie that makes you think.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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