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
In 1948, Norman Corwin was hired to write a draft of the screenplay. After the release of the film, questions arose about the extent of Corwin's contributions to the completed film, but the Screen Writers Guild judged Rossen to be the sole writer. See more »
When Tommy first takes the field, the referee is towards the left and Tommy is to the right, really not anywhere near each other, yet the ref's arm is visible in the close up. See more »
Do you know what good comes out of?
You tell me, Mr. Stark.
Out of bad, that's what good comes out of. Because you can't make it out of anything else. You didn't know that, did you?
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Maybe "All the King's Men" is a bit long in the tooth now, but until "The Godfather" and "Patton" it was the best film ever made!
The selection of Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark was gutsy, since Crawford can -at best- have been considered "good". Somehow, though, Crawford did not play Willie Stark - he Was Willie! Much like George C. Scott did not play Patton - he Was Patton.
The "you hicks" speech was great. Not until the "Patton" speech was there anything better on film.
Essentially, the thing making the film great was watching Willie "grow up" in the sense of casting aside his idealism for power. Turning point is the cemetery scene, when one of the attendees seeks divine forgiveness for not having voted for Willie.
The turning moment was not unlike Michael Corelone saying "I'm with you Pop" when the Godfather was in the hospital. Michael did not mean physical proximity, but that he then "bought into" the business.
In both cases, the storyline is a reminder about Power and Corruption.
Like most movies made from books, there were some changes that did detract from the story (no where in the movie do we learn that the Judge is Jack Burden's father - yet that is so important). Yet, correspondingly, no one can accuse the book of word economy. It is a powerful story, but overly descriptive.
Crawford's change of expression - the beginnings of insight - are classic.
Definitely worth seeing.
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