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Slimey slimey politicians. This film shines a light on the grubby side of politics. One of which many of us are oh so familiar with these days.
Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) is supposedly an honest man. He, a self-confessed ‘hick’, is barely educated and gets through law school thanks to some mighty tutoring by his school teacher wife. Stark is disgusted by all the corruption he sees around him. This is the south and for many in power, corruption is their middle name. Three times he tries to get elected for Governor and fails. On the final try, Stark sees a way to get what he wants by joining in with some suspect fellows.
Journalist, Jack Burden (John Ireland), follows Stark’s career with great interest. He is inspired by Stark’s zeal for truth and justice. They become friends and Burden helps Stark with public speaking and the like. Things go from bad to worse for the troubled Mr Stark. His hand become black with grub as he opens himself up completely to the dirty world of politics. His bottom line has disappeared and now anything seems permissible in this crazy place. He justifies his actions by hanging on to his former ‘hick’ persona, maintaining that it is all for the good of the little people. As if!
In the end, the whole thing goes to hell in a hairbasket or whatever the saying is! It just gets so thick and muddy that no one seems to be able to see straight. There’s gunfire, betrayal… disaster.
All the King’s Men is a loose take on the real life story of Governor and and Democratic U.S Senator Huey Pierce Long. They called him the ‘Kingfish’, a lively and popular fellow who fought passionately for the rights of ordinary Americans. Or did he?
For us, corruption and politics go hand in hand. In 1949, it was a different story for the wide-eyed Americans who held their leaders in great respect and honour. This film would have rocked their world, shattered their illusions. Which is what great cinema does.
All the King’s Men Trivia:
Next time, we launch ourselves into the 50’s with the incredible Bette Davis film, All About Eve. This one is not to be missed, so grab a few hours and immerse yourself in the wicked world of Broadway.