All the King’s Men (1949)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Classic story of corruption


Movie Info

Movie Name:  All the King’s Men

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  November 8, 1949

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Trust me…I’m a nice guy!

Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) seems like just what politics needs. He’s honest, home-grown, and talks the language of the people. Willie however doesn’t have the support he needs to actually win an office. With the help of Jack Burden (John Ireland), his love Anne Stanton (Joanne Dru), Anne’s uncle Judge Monte Stanton (Raymond Greenleaf), Anne’s brother Doctor Adam Stanton (Shepperd Strudwick), and his loyal secretary Sadie Burke (Mercedes McCambridge), Willie begins to make moves. As Willie grows bigger, he grows more and more corrupt…can an honest man make it to Washington?


I’m a kind of ok guy

Directed by Robert Rossen, All the King’s Men was a big award winner and one of the quinessential election movies. The film adapts Robert Penn Warren’s 1946 Pulitzer Prize winning novel. The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Actor (Broderick Crawford), and Best Supporting Actress (Mercedes McCambridge) and was nominated for Best Director, Best Writing Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (John Ireland), and Best Film Editing.

The story in this movie is quite smart. It shows a slow corruption of an honest man. It is debated throughout the movie if he really was ever honest, but his earlier appearances in the movie does paint him as a good guy. The people around him first love, then loath him as he turns into a controlling man. This of course is all behind the scenes as most of the general public still supports him.


Ok…I’m pretty much an ass

The character of Willie Stark was based on the real life politician Huey Long aka The Kingfish who was a prominent Louisiana politician known for being corrupt. Long (like Stark) also met his death by assassination. Long also was killed by a doctor who was the son of the judge that Long was trying to oust (paralleling the book and film). The Long ties are obvious, but allegedly the studio didn’t wish the Long name mentioned on set, so crew were not supposed to discuss Long during shooting.

Crawford is great as Willie Stark. He seems like a likeable guy at the beginning of the film, but by the end, even his body language and look appears crooked. Crawford wasn’t even supposed to be Willie Stark. Originally John Wayne was approached for the role, but turned it down because he didn’t like corruption of America presented. Ironically, John Wayne was nominated for Sands of Iwo Jima and lost the Best Actor Oscar to Broderick Crawford in All the King’s Men.

All the King’s Men is a fun film worth checking out. The movie is a classic and was remade in 2006 with Sean Penn stepping in as Willie Stark and supported by Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, and Jakie Earle Haley in the supporting roles…it might be nice, but the classic is great.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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