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
Director Robert Rossen filmed in an unusual manner. Nobody in the cast had a script. Rossen let them read it once and took it away from them. According to Broderick Crawford, "We really had to stay on our toes." See more »
Near the end of the movie, on the courthouse steps, Stark is shown from the front with Sugar Boy standing directly at his right shoulder. From behind, however, Sugar Boy is nowhere near Stark. See more »
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.
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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.
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