All the King's Men Reviews
Powerful film. The change in Willie Stark from hero to villain makes for a great story. We are immediately drawn in, rooting for Stark. He represents the guy we all want to see succeed - the innocent underdog with good intentions. However, this is not a Disney movie or West Wing. What happens next is gritty and a pretty accurate description of politics and how it corrupts even the noblest of souls. The fact that Stark becomes the embodiment of everything he was initially railing against, and of the reason he got into politics, is delicious irony and provides a wonderful cycle to the plot.
Almost as impactful is Jack Burden's story. One thinks that he would be the one person to some degree of ethics and integrity, but he is happy to sell his soul to the highest bidder. We also see how the corruption spreads like a virus, affecting even Jack's friends.
Not a perfect movie though. It would have been more dramatic if Stark's slide into fascism and corruption was more subtle and slow, and we had an even spread between Good Stark and Bad Stark. Instead, Stark's transformation is almost cliff-like and the majority of the film features Bad Stark. Also, a Bob Roberts-type ending would have been superb... (can't say anything more than that for fear of spoiling it).
Won the 1950 Best Picture Oscar.
A state governor rises to power by delivering a strong message to the low income workers of his state that need change. Meanwhile, the he's collecting big money from the corporations holding the low income workers down. He is a blowhard who takes advantage of his position for his own ambitions and notoriety. Meanwhile, some backers of the governor are hurt in the process and may about-face on supporting the governor now that he's in office.
"How true is it?"
Robert Rossen, director of The Hustler, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, The Roaring Twenties, They Came to Cordura, Island in the Sun, Mambo, and Johnny O'Clock, delivers All the King's Men. The storyline for this picture is very interesting and feels so much like the 2016 Trump campaign. The acting is awesome and the cast includes Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Joanne Dru, John Derek, and Anne Seymour.
"Was she pretty?"
"How would I know? I wasn't looking at her face."
This was on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) during Oscar season so I randomly DVR'd it...and I am glad I did. The plot and characters were very well written and executed and this is definitely worth your time for fans of the classics.
"What's so special about him?"
"They say he's an honest man."
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.