All the King's Men


All the King's Men

Critics 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.



Total Count: 35


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,844
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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.


Broderick Crawford
as Willie Stark
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 (35) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (1)

  • Strong stuff, aided by great photography.

    Feb 15, 2019 | Full Review…
  • It is one of the most vital and honest films to come out of Hollywood in a long time.

    Feb 20, 2015 | Full Review…
  • A poisonous political process from our not-so-distant past dominates Robert Rossen's classic film about the rise of a Southern demagogue.

    Feb 19, 2013 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Feb 19, 2008 | Full Review…
  • A fine adaptation of Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer novel.

    Aug 16, 2007

    Tom Milne

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Today, its realism seems bland, its moralizing forced.

    Dec 12, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for All the King's Men

  • Apr 29, 2014
    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 H Super Reviewer
  • Jan 21, 2013
    Age has dulled some of its power, but "All the King's Men" still stands as an insightful look into the roots of political corruption. As Willie Stark, Broderick Crawford has the voice and the stature to the fit the role, and he delivers each line with as much gusto as one can hope for, but he never seems quite as evil as he should. This can lessen the film's strength during some of its darker moments, but not so much that we don't get the point. What helps the film overcome some of its pratfalls are its supporting performances and an entirely relevant message.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2013
    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. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 14, 2011
    Politics has never been something that really sparks my interest very often (if at all), so to make something that involves politics in a big way that gets my The Long stand in is Willie Stark who is a pure populist through and through. He fights for the little guy in an honest way, and the film follows the typical rise and fall story. It might be about Willie, but, much like The Great Gatsby (among others) the story is told from the perspective of someone else. In this case, that someone is Jack Burden- a journalist turned Willie's right hand man. The film also follows his life, but is primarily about Willie's and the impact Willie has on others. I'm fine with the story following a typical formula, and I kinda expected it, really. My gripes about it though are that the scenes showing the rise from nothing to success happen way to quick, as does Willie's change from great honest guy to the corrupt scum that he once opposed before his own personal downfall. The film is a basic story of power and corruption, and, at one time (mostly when it was released), this sort of thing came off as a revelation. Nowadays it seems almost quaint and unoriginal, but the treatment here is still pretty decent and passable enough, though it wouldn't probably win the Oscars now that it did back in the day, The performances arte quite good, and the film has a fairly good pace (the aforementioned issues being the exception), and the direction's not bad either. It's also shot pretty well, though nothing about the cinematography is really all that amazing. All in all, an okay enough movie, though far from an amazing classic. See it if you want, but don't expect to be blown away or anything.
    Chris W Super Reviewer

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