Thursday, 6 June 2013

All the King's Men (1949) - ★★★★★

Director: Robert Rossen
Writers: Robert Penn Warren (Novel), Robert Rossen (Screenplay)
Stars: Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Mercedes McCambridge, Joanne Dru, John Derek, Anne Seymour

Money, Power, Greed, Corruption, Manipulation and Ambition. All of these subjects are explored in one of the greatest movies I've ever seen, All the King's Men. I'm at a loss for words when it comes to this movie. It absolutely blew me away. I find many classic films about politics and whatnot quite dated and boring, but this one was something different. In my opinion, it's as good as Citizen Kane, with perfect performances, cinematography and a story that remains relevant to the politicians of today.

A newspaper columnist named Jack (John Ireland) is sent to a small town to get the scoop on a man trying to make a difference. His name is Willy Stark (Broderick Crawford), someone who believes that the system is corrupt and only cares for their own welfare, rather than the welfare of the people. Circumstances lead Willy to run for Governor, where power, money and corruption appear to be the only way he can rise to the top.

This movie is awesome! Did power and ambition make Willy a bad person? Or was he always a bad person that finally got into power? It's questions like these that make me love this movie. Everything that was once important to him (like family and ending corruption) was sidelined so that he could stay in power. We see this man change into a person we hardly imagined he could be, which wouldn't have been half as effective without Broderick Crawford's masterful performance.

Yes, the acting was impeccable throughout the film. Crawford stole the show, starting as a lovable and caring man, then turning into a selfish and crooked politician. He had a few monologues throughout the movie, my favorite being the one where he is drunk and slanders the corrupt politicians in front of a crowd. At times I found my jaw dropped, simply because the things he was saying had me in awe. There was such truth and importance in his words that I found myself saying "that's still happening today." 

Mercedes McCambridge also gave a magnificent performance as the manager of Willy. She lightened the mood a lot, although she was just as serious as the rest of the characters. I think she gave the movie the slight comic relief that was needed. Also, the scene where she coaxes Jack into slapping her was a pure masterpiece. She thoroughly deserved the Oscar for Supporting Actress.

For a movie with such a heavy subject, it sure was entertaining! The time flew by as the story unfurled, always beckoning me to wonder what would happen next. There's not much more I can add. The movie just spoke to me. Almost everything about it was perfect! It showed me that you can never fully trust the words of a politician, no matter how sure you are of what they're saying. The people did Willy's bidding like a gaggle of headless geese, and that is something that still occurs all around the world. I love this movie, I hope it doesn't fade away like so many other classic films. 

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