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My familiarity with the director of this film, Robert Rossen, comes from the excellent 1964 psychological thriller Lilith which features one of the few Warren Beatty performances that I actually like. This is his arguably his second most famous film as The Hustler (1961), which I am yet to see although I have watched and enjoyed The Color of Money (1986), is a highly acclaimed picture but this is the only film he has directed that has won Best Picture. I don't think it's deserving of it's Best Picture win as one of my all time favorites The Heiress (1949) was also nominated this year but it's still a fairly watchable movie by today's standards and it presents some interesting ideas when considering today's political climate.
Willie Stark, Broderick Crawford, is a populist politician appealing to the hicks of Louisiana in hopes of being elected governor and taking down the present unfair system. His rise is charted by idealistic reporter Jack Burden, John Ireland, who becomes disillusioned with Stark as he mistreats his son Tom, John Derek, and begins an affair with Burden's girlfriend Anne Stanton, Joanne Dru. Stark's actions eventually lead to him having several enemies including Judge Stanton, Raymond Greenleaf, who he manipulates through Anne and Anne's brother Adam who resents him for hurting his family members.
The parts of the film that work are the lines spewed in Stark's speeches as they work as a believable satire and the montages showing Stark's riled up supporters. They still work today as Stark's speeches are reminiscent of the words of Hal Phillip Walker in Nashville (1975), "When you pay more for an automobile than it cost Columbus to make his first voyage to America." I could identify some of the fascist rhetoric as being similar to that of Donald Trump or Pauline Hansen which proved that Stark as a character is still be relevant because he can be used to comment upon modern political figures. The montages are great as we see angry, pinched little faces with literal pitchforks in hand being exhilarated by Stark's outrageous actions. These two elements combine to make the mid section of the film the most exciting but when we shift to simply watching Stark fooling around with Anne it's rather disappointing.
Crawford's performance is fine as he convinces when he needs to turn on the smarm and his transformation is believable but knowing that we could have had John Wayne in this role instead means that I was slightly disappointed thinking about what could have been. The performer who really stands out is Mercedes McCambridge as Starks dutiful mistress Sadie Burke who is desperate to gain his love. She's like a mix between Jane Wyman in The Lost Weekend (1945) and Virginia Mayo in The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), in other words she's fantastic. Both actors earned their Academy Awards with Crawford having relatively weak competition in Richard Todd and John Wayne and McCambridge being so far ahead of her competition.
The reason that the film doesn't completely work is that parts of it lack dramatic heft and the moments that are meant to be affecting feel dated and overly melodramatic. I wanted more from the film in the form of showdowns between the characters who have huge amounts of tension simmering between them but instead we see characters announce that their view on another character has changed and we don't get any of the delicious scenes of repressed anger found in films like The Heiress. This is a decent film but not a brilliant one and I would recommend that you read the book before watching the film.
The Heiress was clearly the best film nominated in 1949 because it boasts one of Olivia de Havilland's greatest performances, a devastating final scene and impressive direction from William Wyler. It easily beats out this film as it was better made and more entertaining then and still plays as a masterful drama to today's audiences. Watch The Heiress before watching this film and if you want to see a smart political drama check out Primary Colors (1998) and The Candidate (1972) which are more pointed in their criticisms of memorable political leaders.
Another lost rating. Best picture winner. Regardless, it's one of the great classics of American political cinema and the corruption of power. His whole son bit was a bit melodramatic for me.
Elevated from relative mediocrity by a committed performance from Broderick Crawford, one of the poshest names ever to grace the big screen, All The King's Men is a tale of innocence and ambition spiralling into corruption and greed. The film's problem is how much it exaggerates to power of a state governor. If the film had been about a man who worked his way into the Presidency and went mad with power, it would make more sense. But this film would have you believe that the governor of a state has the authority to do pretty much whatever they want with little repercussions. Mercedes McCambridge pulls off the rare feat of winning an Oscar in her debut, but does so with relatively little screen time, and while her performance is compelling, her long absences only undermine the importance of the character. I liked how the movie is filmed from the perspective of a journalist rather than the lead, so the film is an examination, not a justification. We see the leads misdeeds from the point of view of the people who once respected and loved him, but now worry about the damage he might be causing. The premise is interesting, but the film has a tendency to ramble, and the editing is classic early Hollywood, with scenes cutting off with a sudden fade to black. Joanne Dru seems to spend most of the film practising the classic film female twist of the head when she hears something she doesn't like. I liked its depiction of a good man's slippery slope into decadence, but it didn't always hold my attention, and aside from the lead performance, there's not a whole lot I would recommend.
One of the best late 1940's postwar films, this story based largely on Huey Long is outstanding - not only the acting but the filmography. The remake in the mid 2000's wasn't to this level sadly.
Actors are all great. That this did happen in states like Louisiana and Texas in the 1930s and 1940s shows we have a long way to go before the public is educated enough to understand government.
The current US POTUS makes Broderick Crawford look like an honest and forthright politician in this movie, even though he portrays a corrupted evil self-serving governor competently in the movie.
The best, GREATEST movie ever made! With the best movie character ever portrayed: Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark!
the familiarity is fascinating..
All The King's Men
All The King's Men is a character driven political drama about a politician that is ready to twist the law and mend the rules in order to reach his goal.
The premise like such doesn't come often and what is so rare about it is the investment by each member that factored in effectively to tell an unflinching and honest tale that is bitter to the core yet utterly satisfying. The cinematography and camera work is stunning and captures some mesmerizing sequences especially the theme of it that blends in a near distant view and the one that can reach the horizon, something that speaks metaphorically in here.
The background score isn't that impressive but is edited well and is finely detailed. Crawford's performance is something that stands out alone and can easily be filtered amidst this busy yet competent tale and if there is anyone that can and does dare to compete him, it's McCambridge's complex portrayal that has the potential to stare in his powerful eyes.
The typical mob mentality is what fuels this theme of the feature throughout its two hours, where somehow the familiarity is fascinating. The adaptation is adaptive, gripping and layered with thought provoking policies that are conveyed through debates and arguments where both the coins have smarter and mature response to the other, no matter how dark.
Armed with a jagged script and a persona like Crawford on his pocket, Rossen amps up his execution skills where his vision soars crystal clear voice. The inner politics that flips like a coin with power in one hand and responsibility on other, it tugs out all the debauchery and shows us the mirror that may be inedible but is surely essential.
All The King's Men is an act of tenancy dipped under political satire and served through a mature and sensible approach.
Crawford was always stuck with the villainous role, as he knew he was never the Fairbanks-type. So he played a villainous governor, and he stole the scene from start to finish; the two other leads have dubious ground to share with him, along with unconventional noir-style.
film biografico socio-politico che sente il peso dei suoi settant'anni, ma che riesce ugualmente a delineare una precisa analisi sugli effetti che la politica, e soprattutto il potere, ha su individui dall'apparente irreprensibilità morale(5Stelle??seeee).