All the King's Men (1949)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  January 1950 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 9,289 users  
Reviews: 65 user | 56 critic

The rise and fall of a corrupt politician, who makes his friends richer and retains power by dint of a populist appeal.



(based upon: the Pulitzer Prize novel "All the King's Men"), (written for the screen by)
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Shepperd Strudwick ...
Ralph Dumke ...
Katherine Warren ...
Mrs. Burden (as Katharine Warren)
Raymond Greenleaf ...
Walter Burke ...
Grandon Rhodes ...


Jack Burden is a newspaper reporter who first hears of Willie Stark when his editor sends him to Kanoma County to cover the man. What's special about this nobody running for county treasurer? He's supposedly an honest man. Burden discovers this to be true when he sees Stark delivering a speech and having his son pass out handbills, while the local politicians do their best to intimidate him. Willie Stark is honest and brave. He's also a know-nothing hick whose schoolteacher wife has given him what little education he has. Stark loses the race for treasurer, but later makes his way through law school, becoming an idealistic attorney who fights for what is good. Someone in the governor's employ remembers Stark when the governor needs a patsy to run against him and split the vote of his rival. The fat cats underestimate Stark; but Jack Burden, Stark's biggest supporter, overestimates the man's idealism. To get where he wants to go, Willie Stark is willing to crack a few eggs - which ... Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novel Becomes a Vital, Very Great Motion Picture! See more »




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Release Date:

January 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Decepción  »

Filming Locations:


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Technical Specs


(copyright length)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Producer-director Robert Rossen offered the role of Willie Stark to John Wayne. Rossen sent a copy of the script to Wayne's agent, Charles K. Feldman, who forwarded it to Wayne. After reading the script, Wayne sent it back with an angry letter attached. In it, he told Feldman that before he sent the script to any of his other clients, he should ask them if they wanted to star in a film that "smears the machinery of government for no purpose of humor or enlightenment," that "degrades all relationships," and that is populated by "drunken mothers; conniving fathers; double-crossing sweethearts; bad, bad, rich people; and bad, bad poor people if they want to get ahead." He accused Rossen of wanting to make a movie that threw acid on "the American way of life." If Feldman had such clients, Wayne wrote that the agent should "rush this script... to them." Wayne, however, said to the agent that "You can take this script and shove it up Robert Rossen's derrière . . . " Wayne later remarked that "To make Huey Long a wonderful, rough pirate was great . . . but, according to this picture, everybody was shit--except for this weakling intern doctor who was trying to find a place in the world." Broderick Crawford, who had played a supporting role in Wayne's Seven Sinners (1940), eventually received the part of Stark. In a bit of irony, Crawford was Oscar-nominated for the part of Stark and found himself competing against Wayne, who was nominated the same year for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949). Crawford won the Best Actor Oscar, giving Rossen the last laugh. See more »


In the locker room scene, the towel draped over Tom's shoulders keeps changing positions. See more »


Jack Burden: Appeal to their emotions. Make them laugh; make them cry; make them mad, even if they get mad at you. But for heaven's sake, don't try to improve their minds.
See more »


Version of All the King's Men (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

That's The Way To Handle Politics On Film
10 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

You know what I really appreciated about this political story? The filmmakers went overboard NOT to paint the main character as either a Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal. It winds up, then, being more a human-interest story. In other words, there was no political agenda....unlike most films, especially in the last 50 years.

At any rate, Broderick Crawford does an outstanding job portraying the self- proclaimed "hick" Willie Starks, who rises from nothing to become governor of a state and then gets carried away with power and ego.

Mercedes McCambridge is equally riveting as one of his aides. She was a great actress, one of the most intense females I've ever seen on film. I'm sorry she didn't achieve stardom and make more movies than she did. She certainly had the talent. In fact, she won an Academy Award for this performance.

John Ireland also does very well here as another person helping "Willie." Add some good cinematography and you have a fascinating film start-to-finish. I look forward to viewing it again.

73 of 82 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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