All the King's Men


1h 49m 1950
All the King's Men

Brief Synopsis

A backwoods politician rises to the top only to become corrupted.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Political
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1950
Premiere Information
New York opening: 8 Nov 1949
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (New York, 1946).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,873ft

Synopsis

Reporter Jack Burden is sent to cover the campaign of Willie Stark, a small-town Southern reform candidate for county treasurer. Willie is determined to expose government corruption, and those in power are equally determined that he will not be allowed to run. After Willie is released from jail, having been arrested for illegally holding a political rally, he takes Jack home to meet his father, his wife Lucy, a former schoolteacher, and their teenaged, adopted son Tom. Jack is impressed by the Starks's fortitude and, convinced of Willie's honesty, writes a series of favorable articles about him. On a trip home to Burden's Landing, Jack's wealthy stepfather, Floyd McEvoy, scoffs at the idea that Willie is honest and unbuyable. Later, Jack proposes marriage to Anne Stanton, the niece of their neighbor, Judge Stanton, and sister of his best friend, Adam, but she turns him down. Willie loses the election but later, with Lucy's tutoring, acquires a law degree. Sometime later, several grade-school children are killed when a fire escape they are using collapses during a fire drill, and Willie files a damage suit against the builders. The voters, remembering his charge that the building contract went to a relative of the county commissioner, are now willing to support Willie. Threatened by a serious reform movement, corrupt state politicians convince Willie to run for governor, thinking that he will split the reform vote and allow their candidate to win. Jack travels with the campaign but, like the voters, is unimpressed by Willie's dull, fact-filled speeches. One evening, while Jack works with Willie to improve his oratorical skills, Sadie Burke, who has been sent on the campaign by the political machine to keep an eye on Willie, tells him the truth--that he is a decoy. The next day, in the best speech of his career, a hungover Willie presents the facts to his audience, telling them that they are "hicks" just like him. Although he loses the election, he has learned what it will take to win in the future. Four years later, Willie again runs for governor and hires Jack as his aide. This time, he finances his campaign by making deals with anyone who will help him. On a trip to Burden's Landing with Jack, Willie admits that he has made promises, but argues persuasively that good can come out of evil and thus wins the support of the Stantons, particularly Anne. After he is elected, Willie pushes bills through the legislature, instituting benefits for farmers and allocating money for schools, football stadiums and hospitals. He also starts drinking heavily and pursuing young women, to the disgust of Sadie, who has become his mistress. Willie appoints Stanton to the office of Attorney General, but Stanton resigns when Willie suppresses information about graft in his administration. Willie then assigns Jack to dig up scandal in Stanton's background. Although he is reluctant, Jack is too dependent on Willie to refuse, even after Sadie reveals Willie's ongoing affair with Anne. After a drunken Tom causes the death of Helene Hale during a driving accident, he publicly admits his guilt, despite Willie's attempts to cover up the incident. Willie then offers Helene's father a bribe, which is refused. Later, Willie insists that Tom play in a football game, and Tom ends up paralyzed after an injury sustained in the accident is exacerbated. When Adam refuses to head Willie's new medical center, Jack shows Anne the evidence he has uncovered about the judge and offers to keep it a secret if Adam takes the job. Then Hale is killed, and Stanton accuses Willie of murder. As impeachment proceedings begin, Willie demands that Jack disclose what he has discovered about Stanton. Privately, Jack begs Stanton to stop the proceedings, and is stunned when Willie reveals that he already knows about the judge's background. Stanton commits suicide, and Jack, suspecting that Anne was the source of Willie's information, quits his job in disgust. When Willie is not impeached, Adam shoots him during a victory speech and is killed himself by the police. After Jack unsuccessfully tries to convince Anne to reveal the truth about Willie to the crowd, Willie dies in Jack's arms, without understanding why he has been killed.

Cast

Broderick Crawford

Willie Stark

John Ireland

Jack Burden

Joanne Dru

Anne Stanton

John Derek

Tom Stark

Mercedes Mccambridge

Sadie Burke

Shepperd Strudwick

Adam Stanton

Ralph Dumke

Tiny Duffy

Anne Seymour

Lucy Stark

Katharine Warren

Mrs. Burden

Raymond Greenleaf

Judge Stanton

Walter Burke

Sugar Boy

Will Wright

Dolph Pillsbury

Grandon Rhodes

Floyd McEvoy

H. C. Miller

Pa Stark

Richard Hale

Hale

William Bruce

Commissioner

A. C. Tillman

Sheriff

Houseley Stevenson

Madison

Truett Myers

Minister

Phil Tully

Football coach

Helene Stanley

Helene Hale

Reba Watterson

Receptionist

George Farmer

Bus man

John Giles

Young boy

Ted French

Dance caller

William Cottrell

Reporter

King Donovan

Reporter

Paul Maxey

Local chairman

Frank Mcclure

Doctor

Irving Smith

Butler

Louis Mason

Minister

John "skins" Miller

Drunk

Edwin Chandler

Radio announcer

Wheaton Chambers

Senator

Marshall Bradford

Senator

Avery Graves

Senator

Nolan Leary

Senator

William Green

Senator

Glen Thompson

State trooper

Al Wyatt

State trooper

Harold Miller

Speaker of house

Mary Bear

File clerk

Stephen Chase

Puckett

Richard Gordon

Politician

Tom Ferrandini

Politician

Judd Holdren

Politician

George Taylor

Politician

James Linn

Politician

Pat O'malley

Politician

Earl Dewey

Politician, Harrison headquarters

Roy Darmour

Politician, Harrison headquarters

Charles Sherlock

Politician, Harrison headquarters

Robert Filmer

Editor

Bert Hanlon

Editor

William Tannen

Man in city bar

Anthony Merrill

Man in city bar

Al Thompson

Man in cheap bar

Charles Haefele

Men in cheap bar

Rhoda Williams

Paul Ford

Midge Bracker

Beau Anderson

Les Sketchley

Duke Mcgrath

Frank Wilcox

Bob Milton

Kenneth Cutler

Charles Lauder

Jack Evans

Charles Perry

Charles Sullivan

Donald Kerr

Jack Gordon

Mike Lally

George Morrell

Stanley Blystone

Jack Gargan

Helena Benda

Beulah Hutton

Thomas Kingston

Sam Ash

Richard Bartell

Larry Steers

Photo Collections

All the King's Men - Academy Archives
Here are archive images from All the King's Men (1949), courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Promo

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Political
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1950
Premiere Information
New York opening: 8 Nov 1949
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (New York, 1946).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,873ft

Award Wins

Best Actor

1949
Broderick Crawford

Best Picture

1949

Best Supporting Actress

1949
Mercedes Mccambridge

Award Nominations

Best Director

1949
Robert Rossen

Best Editing

1949

Best Supporting Actor

1949

Best Writing, Screenplay

1950
Robert Rossen

Articles

All the King's Men


It may have won a 1946 Pulitzer Prize, but Robert Penn Warren's legendary political novel, All the King's Men, was in for a major overhaul when it was adapted for the screen by writer-director Robert Rossen. Rossen turned the story's focus away from Penn's reporter-narrator, Jack Burden, in favor of a sleazy politician named Willie Stark. When Rossen cast a little-known B-movie actor named Broderick Crawford in the role of Stark, the picture took on a boisterous life of its own. It ended up winning Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Crawford), and Best Supporting Actress (Mercedes McCambridge), while almost eclipsing the novel in popularity.

In both the movie and the book, the character of Stark is obviously based on Huey P. Long, the faux-good ol' boy who ruled Louisiana politics in the 1930s...that is, until he was assassinated. Burden (John Ireland), traces Stark's no-holds-barred rise and fall, and it's not a pretty sight. Crawford is a powerhouse, in a towering performance that he would never again come close to equaling. It's fascinating to watch Stark evolve from an earnest hick who's being played for a fool by the powers that be into a bombastic demagogue who crushes anyone who gets in his way. Rossen's gift for montage, and Crawford's roaring oratorical style, paints a picture of a sincere person who slowly grows intoxicated by power. Viewers who endured Steven Zaillian's 2006 remake of the film, with its histrionic performance from Sean Penn, shouldn't be scared away from this masterpiece. This is one of the finest political films in the history of American cinema, and it still packs a punch. Pick through any current newspaper or Internet news site, and you're bound to find political situations that echo All the King's Men. To a certain degree, All the King's Men was one of those pictures that was saved in the editing. In his entertaining book, Growing Up in Hollywood, film editor Robert Parrish describes a post-production process that sounds more like a continuous crap game. Al Clark, who cut the initial version of the film, was having trouble wrangling the massive amount of footage that Rossen had shot into a coherent narrative, so Parrish was brought onboard by Rossen and Columbia Studios head, Harry Cohn, to see what he could do.

Unfortunately, Parrish couldn't do much, as Rossen had a tendency to cling for dear life to everything he shot. After several intense weeks of tinkering and cutting, the movie was still over 250 minutes long, and a weary Cohn was prepared to release it in this version after one more preview. This threw Rossen, who had argued with Cohn throughout shooting, into a panic, so he came up with a clever solution. Not that he knew it would work.

"I want you to go through the whole picture," Rossen said to Parrish. "Select what you consider to be the center of each scene, put the film in the synch machine and wind down a hundred feet before and a hundred feet after, and chop it off, regardless of what's going on. Cut through dialogue, music, anything. Then, when you're finished, we'll run the picture and see what we've got." Parrish did what Rossen suggested. When he was done, they were left with a 109-minute movie, and, lo and behold, it was a lot more compelling to watch.

"We ran it for Rossen and discovered his brainstorm had worked," Parrish wrote. "It all made sense in an exciting, slightly confusing, montagey sort of way. We went back and added bits to three scenes. Then we dubbed it and took it to our final preview in Pasadena...and were relieved at the audience's enthusiastic reaction." Aside from a preview he and Rossen experienced when they collaborated on Body and Soul (1947), Parrish felt that the Pasadena screening of All the King's Men was the most successful of his career. "By now we were all so nervous about the whole operation that we decided not to touch it again. After the Pasadena preview we cut the negative with all the imperfections, the mismatched cuts, and the jumps in the soundtrack."

When All the King's Men won its Academy Award for Best Picture, Harry Cohn, who was arguing once again with Rossen, repeatedly gave Parrish credit for saving the film, even though he only did what Rossen told him to do! Either way, the editing gambit gives the film a memorably jagged urgency that's quite unique for a studio-era film. Sometimes when you roll the dice, you really do come out a winner.

Producer: Robert Rossen
Director: Robert Rossen
Screenplay: Robert Rossen (based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren)
Editor: Al Clark, Robert Parrish
Art Direction: Sturges Carne
Costumes: Jean Louis
Cinematography: Burnett Guffey
Music: Louis Gruenberg
Sound: Frank Goodwin
Cast: Broderick Crawford (Willie Stark), Joanne Dru (Anne Stanton), John Ireland (Jack Burden), John Derek (Tom Stark), Mercedes McCambridge (Sadie Burke), Shepperd Strudwick (Adam Stanton), Ralph Dumke (Tiny Duffy), Anne Seymour (Lucy Stark), Katherine Warren (Mrs. Burden), Raymond Greenleaf (Judge Stanton), Walter Burke (Sugar Boy), Will Wright (Dolph Pillsbury), Grandon Rhodes (Floyd McEvoy).
BW-109m.

by Paul Tatara
All The King's Men

All the King's Men

It may have won a 1946 Pulitzer Prize, but Robert Penn Warren's legendary political novel, All the King's Men, was in for a major overhaul when it was adapted for the screen by writer-director Robert Rossen. Rossen turned the story's focus away from Penn's reporter-narrator, Jack Burden, in favor of a sleazy politician named Willie Stark. When Rossen cast a little-known B-movie actor named Broderick Crawford in the role of Stark, the picture took on a boisterous life of its own. It ended up winning Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Crawford), and Best Supporting Actress (Mercedes McCambridge), while almost eclipsing the novel in popularity. In both the movie and the book, the character of Stark is obviously based on Huey P. Long, the faux-good ol' boy who ruled Louisiana politics in the 1930s...that is, until he was assassinated. Burden (John Ireland), traces Stark's no-holds-barred rise and fall, and it's not a pretty sight. Crawford is a powerhouse, in a towering performance that he would never again come close to equaling. It's fascinating to watch Stark evolve from an earnest hick who's being played for a fool by the powers that be into a bombastic demagogue who crushes anyone who gets in his way. Rossen's gift for montage, and Crawford's roaring oratorical style, paints a picture of a sincere person who slowly grows intoxicated by power. Viewers who endured Steven Zaillian's 2006 remake of the film, with its histrionic performance from Sean Penn, shouldn't be scared away from this masterpiece. This is one of the finest political films in the history of American cinema, and it still packs a punch. Pick through any current newspaper or Internet news site, and you're bound to find political situations that echo All the King's Men. To a certain degree, All the King's Men was one of those pictures that was saved in the editing. In his entertaining book, Growing Up in Hollywood, film editor Robert Parrish describes a post-production process that sounds more like a continuous crap game. Al Clark, who cut the initial version of the film, was having trouble wrangling the massive amount of footage that Rossen had shot into a coherent narrative, so Parrish was brought onboard by Rossen and Columbia Studios head, Harry Cohn, to see what he could do. Unfortunately, Parrish couldn't do much, as Rossen had a tendency to cling for dear life to everything he shot. After several intense weeks of tinkering and cutting, the movie was still over 250 minutes long, and a weary Cohn was prepared to release it in this version after one more preview. This threw Rossen, who had argued with Cohn throughout shooting, into a panic, so he came up with a clever solution. Not that he knew it would work. "I want you to go through the whole picture," Rossen said to Parrish. "Select what you consider to be the center of each scene, put the film in the synch machine and wind down a hundred feet before and a hundred feet after, and chop it off, regardless of what's going on. Cut through dialogue, music, anything. Then, when you're finished, we'll run the picture and see what we've got." Parrish did what Rossen suggested. When he was done, they were left with a 109-minute movie, and, lo and behold, it was a lot more compelling to watch. "We ran it for Rossen and discovered his brainstorm had worked," Parrish wrote. "It all made sense in an exciting, slightly confusing, montagey sort of way. We went back and added bits to three scenes. Then we dubbed it and took it to our final preview in Pasadena...and were relieved at the audience's enthusiastic reaction." Aside from a preview he and Rossen experienced when they collaborated on Body and Soul (1947), Parrish felt that the Pasadena screening of All the King's Men was the most successful of his career. "By now we were all so nervous about the whole operation that we decided not to touch it again. After the Pasadena preview we cut the negative with all the imperfections, the mismatched cuts, and the jumps in the soundtrack." When All the King's Men won its Academy Award for Best Picture, Harry Cohn, who was arguing once again with Rossen, repeatedly gave Parrish credit for saving the film, even though he only did what Rossen told him to do! Either way, the editing gambit gives the film a memorably jagged urgency that's quite unique for a studio-era film. Sometimes when you roll the dice, you really do come out a winner. Producer: Robert Rossen Director: Robert Rossen Screenplay: Robert Rossen (based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren) Editor: Al Clark, Robert Parrish Art Direction: Sturges Carne Costumes: Jean Louis Cinematography: Burnett Guffey Music: Louis Gruenberg Sound: Frank Goodwin Cast: Broderick Crawford (Willie Stark), Joanne Dru (Anne Stanton), John Ireland (Jack Burden), John Derek (Tom Stark), Mercedes McCambridge (Sadie Burke), Shepperd Strudwick (Adam Stanton), Ralph Dumke (Tiny Duffy), Anne Seymour (Lucy Stark), Katherine Warren (Mrs. Burden), Raymond Greenleaf (Judge Stanton), Walter Burke (Sugar Boy), Will Wright (Dolph Pillsbury), Grandon Rhodes (Floyd McEvoy). BW-109m. by Paul Tatara

All the King's Men - ALL THE KING'S MEN - The Oscar®-winning 1950 Version on DVD


All the King's Men takes its title from the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty, the poor guy who had a great fall and couldn't be put together again. But that's the movie's only childlike touch. Directed by Robert Rossen in 1949 and released on DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, this critically acclaimed melodrama stands with the most hard-boiled stories ever told about American politics.

Based on Robert Penn Warren's novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1947, All the King's Men has two main characters. One is Willie Stark, modeled on Huey Long, a real-life Louisiana governor and senator who was assassinated in the state capitol in 1935. The other, more central to the novel than the movie, is Jack Burden, a journalist who goes to work for Willie without realizing the moral and emotional consequences this will bring.

At the start Willie is an ordinary rural Southerner who'd like to win public office and help people, but has little education and no talent for getting votes. He loses his first election, to nobody's surprise, and settles in to study law with help from his loyal wife. Soon he's an attorney, finally helping people and making more money than a small-time government post could offer.

The state's political machine has other ideas, though. Their candidate for governor is doing poorly, and they need someone who can split the "hick vote" so he can win. Willie is just the ticket, since he'd like to be in politics and is too unsophisticated to know he's being used. He accepts the machine's backing and travels around the state giving incredibly boring speeches that he thinks are excellent because his hypocritical handlers tell him so. Learning the awful truth from Jack, he gets drunk and throws away his speech, talking from the heart instead. He reminds the crowd that his warnings about construction graft were prophetic-several kids were later killed when a schoolhouse fire escape collapsed-and proclaims that he's a hick who'll stand up for other hicks. This time he wins.

As governor, Willie takes no orders from the machine or anyone else. While he rules with an iron hand, he also builds schools and highways that make him hugely popular. Depending on your point of view, he's a "messiah or dictator," as a Citizen Kane-type newsreel puts it. Either way, complications start multiplying: His attorney general quits; his assistant Sadie gets jealous of his love for another woman; his adopted son has a fatal drunk-driving accident; and eventually his enemies try to impeach him. Jack isn't doing too well, either. Willie has stolen his fiancée, ordered him to dig up dirt on an admired friend, and gotten him deeply involved in the political duplicity he used to think Willie hated. Jack survives in the end, while Willie suffers the same fate-shot by a physician whose family he'd injured-that finished Long off in real life.

All the King's Men was one of many "social consciousness" pictures made in Hollywood soon after World War II, when returning veterans had trouble finding jobs, corruption thrived in government and big business, and inequalities along class and racial lines-which had seemed less important during the war itself-reasserted themselves with a vengeance. At a time when movies were taking on many sensitive themes, such as soulless capitalism in Force of Evil (1948) and anti-Semitism in Crossfire (1947), the corrosive view of politics in Warren's novel cried out for film treatment.

Rossen bought the rights, wrote his own screenplay, and got Columbia Pictures to finance it. He reportedly offered the Willie Stark role to John Wayne, a famous right-winger who was outraged by the script's negative portrait of American politics. The part went to Broderick Crawford, boosting him out of the B-movie world he'd been stuck in for years. Hoping to capture Long's personality as realistically as possible, Crawford studied his voice and gestures by watching newsreel footage. Rossen shot as much as he could on location, using local residents as extras.

All the King's Men was timely in 1949 and remains so today. But it would pack a stronger punch if Rossen's directing weren't so solemn and stilted. And while the film's setting isn't specified, the story certainly has Southern roots, so you have to wonder why almost nobody has a Southern accent, and why no African-American faces are visible, even in the background. In the 2006 remake, writer-director Steven Zaillian corrects this, giving Southern atmosphere to spare. (The only extras on the DVD are two previews of Zaillian's version, starring Sean Penn as Willie and Jude Law as Jack.)

The acting in Rossen's film is also uneven. While it's hard to imagine a more ideal role for Crawford, the studio apparently decided to smooth out the raspy voice that was one of his trademarks, diluting his performance. Mercedes McCambridge gives great energy to Sadie and Joanna Dru has good moments as Anne, but John Ireland is wooden as Jack and Shepperd Strudwick even more so as Anne's idealistic brother.

None of this stopped the movie in the Academy Awards race, though-Crawford and McCambridge won as best actor and best supporting actress, Ireland was nominated for best supporting actor, and Rossen was nominated for his directing. In all, the film got seven nominations and three wins, including best picture.

In a review of All the King's Men written years after its premiere, Pauline Kael said watching Willie Stark for a couple of hours "might just make you feel better about the President you've got." Some viewers might feel that way in any era, which testifies to the story's lasting relevance. Rossen's adaptation isn't a great movie, but it raises issues still worth pondering.

For more information about All the King's Men, visit Sony Home Entertainment. To order All the King's Men, go to TCM Shopping.

by Mikita Brottman and David Sterritt

All the King's Men - ALL THE KING'S MEN - The Oscar®-winning 1950 Version on DVD

All the King's Men takes its title from the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty, the poor guy who had a great fall and couldn't be put together again. But that's the movie's only childlike touch. Directed by Robert Rossen in 1949 and released on DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, this critically acclaimed melodrama stands with the most hard-boiled stories ever told about American politics. Based on Robert Penn Warren's novel, which won the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1947, All the King's Men has two main characters. One is Willie Stark, modeled on Huey Long, a real-life Louisiana governor and senator who was assassinated in the state capitol in 1935. The other, more central to the novel than the movie, is Jack Burden, a journalist who goes to work for Willie without realizing the moral and emotional consequences this will bring. At the start Willie is an ordinary rural Southerner who'd like to win public office and help people, but has little education and no talent for getting votes. He loses his first election, to nobody's surprise, and settles in to study law with help from his loyal wife. Soon he's an attorney, finally helping people and making more money than a small-time government post could offer. The state's political machine has other ideas, though. Their candidate for governor is doing poorly, and they need someone who can split the "hick vote" so he can win. Willie is just the ticket, since he'd like to be in politics and is too unsophisticated to know he's being used. He accepts the machine's backing and travels around the state giving incredibly boring speeches that he thinks are excellent because his hypocritical handlers tell him so. Learning the awful truth from Jack, he gets drunk and throws away his speech, talking from the heart instead. He reminds the crowd that his warnings about construction graft were prophetic-several kids were later killed when a schoolhouse fire escape collapsed-and proclaims that he's a hick who'll stand up for other hicks. This time he wins. As governor, Willie takes no orders from the machine or anyone else. While he rules with an iron hand, he also builds schools and highways that make him hugely popular. Depending on your point of view, he's a "messiah or dictator," as a Citizen Kane-type newsreel puts it. Either way, complications start multiplying: His attorney general quits; his assistant Sadie gets jealous of his love for another woman; his adopted son has a fatal drunk-driving accident; and eventually his enemies try to impeach him. Jack isn't doing too well, either. Willie has stolen his fiancée, ordered him to dig up dirt on an admired friend, and gotten him deeply involved in the political duplicity he used to think Willie hated. Jack survives in the end, while Willie suffers the same fate-shot by a physician whose family he'd injured-that finished Long off in real life. All the King's Men was one of many "social consciousness" pictures made in Hollywood soon after World War II, when returning veterans had trouble finding jobs, corruption thrived in government and big business, and inequalities along class and racial lines-which had seemed less important during the war itself-reasserted themselves with a vengeance. At a time when movies were taking on many sensitive themes, such as soulless capitalism in Force of Evil (1948) and anti-Semitism in Crossfire (1947), the corrosive view of politics in Warren's novel cried out for film treatment. Rossen bought the rights, wrote his own screenplay, and got Columbia Pictures to finance it. He reportedly offered the Willie Stark role to John Wayne, a famous right-winger who was outraged by the script's negative portrait of American politics. The part went to Broderick Crawford, boosting him out of the B-movie world he'd been stuck in for years. Hoping to capture Long's personality as realistically as possible, Crawford studied his voice and gestures by watching newsreel footage. Rossen shot as much as he could on location, using local residents as extras. All the King's Men was timely in 1949 and remains so today. But it would pack a stronger punch if Rossen's directing weren't so solemn and stilted. And while the film's setting isn't specified, the story certainly has Southern roots, so you have to wonder why almost nobody has a Southern accent, and why no African-American faces are visible, even in the background. In the 2006 remake, writer-director Steven Zaillian corrects this, giving Southern atmosphere to spare. (The only extras on the DVD are two previews of Zaillian's version, starring Sean Penn as Willie and Jude Law as Jack.) The acting in Rossen's film is also uneven. While it's hard to imagine a more ideal role for Crawford, the studio apparently decided to smooth out the raspy voice that was one of his trademarks, diluting his performance. Mercedes McCambridge gives great energy to Sadie and Joanna Dru has good moments as Anne, but John Ireland is wooden as Jack and Shepperd Strudwick even more so as Anne's idealistic brother. None of this stopped the movie in the Academy Awards race, though-Crawford and McCambridge won as best actor and best supporting actress, Ireland was nominated for best supporting actor, and Rossen was nominated for his directing. In all, the film got seven nominations and three wins, including best picture. In a review of All the King's Men written years after its premiere, Pauline Kael said watching Willie Stark for a couple of hours "might just make you feel better about the President you've got." Some viewers might feel that way in any era, which testifies to the story's lasting relevance. Rossen's adaptation isn't a great movie, but it raises issues still worth pondering. For more information about All the King's Men, visit Sony Home Entertainment. To order All the King's Men, go to TCM Shopping. by Mikita Brottman and David Sterritt

Mercedes McCambridge (1916-2004)


Veteran character actress Mercedes McCambridge, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar® for All the King's Men, and later provided the scary voice of a demon-possessed Linda Blair in The Exorcist, died from natural causes on March 2 in a rest home in San Diego. She was 87.

She was born Charlotte Mercedes McCambridge on March 16, 1916, in Joliet, Illinois. After graduation from Mundelein College in Chicago, she acted in local radio, doing everything from children's programs to soap operas. By the early '40s, she relocated to New York, where her powerful voice kept her busy as one of the top radio actresses of her day, including a stint with Orson Wells' radio dramas.

In the late '40s she appeared successfully in several Broadway productions, and this led a call from Hollywood. In her film debut, she was cast as Broderick Crawford's scheming mistress in All the King's Men (1949) and won an Oscar® for her fine performance.

Despite her strong start, McCambridge's film roles would be very sporadic over the years. Her strengths were her husky voice, square build, and forthright personae, not exactly qualities for an ingenue. Instead, McCambridge took interesting parts in some quirky movies: playing a self-righteous church leader opposite Joan Crawford in one of the cinema's great cult Westerns, Nicholas Ray's kinky Johnny Guitar (1954); a key role as Rock Hudson's sister in George Stevens' epic Giant (1956, a second Oscar® nomination), and as a gang leader in Orson Wells' magnificent noir thriller Touch of Evil (1958).

By the '60s, McCambridge's career was hampered by bouts of alcoholism, and apart for her voice work as the demon in William Friedkin's The Exorcist(1973, where the director cruelly omitted her from the credits before the Screen Actors Guild intervened and demanded that she receive proper recognition), the parts she found toward the end of her career were hardly highpoints. Some fairly forgettable films: Thieves (1977), The Concorde - Airport '79 (1979) and guest roles in some routine television shows such as Charlie's Angels and Cagney & Lacey were all she could find before quietly retiring from the screen.

It should be noted that McCambridge finished her career on a high note, when in the early '90s, Neil Simon asked her to play the role of the grandmother in Lost in Yonkers on Broadway. Her return to the New York stage proved to be a great success, and McCambridge would perform the play for a phenomenal 560 performances. They were no surviving family members at the time of her death.

by Michael T. Toole

Mercedes McCambridge (1916-2004)

Veteran character actress Mercedes McCambridge, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar® for All the King's Men, and later provided the scary voice of a demon-possessed Linda Blair in The Exorcist, died from natural causes on March 2 in a rest home in San Diego. She was 87. She was born Charlotte Mercedes McCambridge on March 16, 1916, in Joliet, Illinois. After graduation from Mundelein College in Chicago, she acted in local radio, doing everything from children's programs to soap operas. By the early '40s, she relocated to New York, where her powerful voice kept her busy as one of the top radio actresses of her day, including a stint with Orson Wells' radio dramas. In the late '40s she appeared successfully in several Broadway productions, and this led a call from Hollywood. In her film debut, she was cast as Broderick Crawford's scheming mistress in All the King's Men (1949) and won an Oscar® for her fine performance. Despite her strong start, McCambridge's film roles would be very sporadic over the years. Her strengths were her husky voice, square build, and forthright personae, not exactly qualities for an ingenue. Instead, McCambridge took interesting parts in some quirky movies: playing a self-righteous church leader opposite Joan Crawford in one of the cinema's great cult Westerns, Nicholas Ray's kinky Johnny Guitar (1954); a key role as Rock Hudson's sister in George Stevens' epic Giant (1956, a second Oscar® nomination), and as a gang leader in Orson Wells' magnificent noir thriller Touch of Evil (1958). By the '60s, McCambridge's career was hampered by bouts of alcoholism, and apart for her voice work as the demon in William Friedkin's The Exorcist(1973, where the director cruelly omitted her from the credits before the Screen Actors Guild intervened and demanded that she receive proper recognition), the parts she found toward the end of her career were hardly highpoints. Some fairly forgettable films: Thieves (1977), The Concorde - Airport '79 (1979) and guest roles in some routine television shows such as Charlie's Angels and Cagney & Lacey were all she could find before quietly retiring from the screen. It should be noted that McCambridge finished her career on a high note, when in the early '90s, Neil Simon asked her to play the role of the grandmother in Lost in Yonkers on Broadway. Her return to the New York stage proved to be a great success, and McCambridge would perform the play for a phenomenal 560 performances. They were no surviving family members at the time of her death. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Residents of the area around Stockton, California were used as extras in the film; often, director Robert Rossen would give them speaking parts and film the "rehearsals" to get a more spontaneous effect.

To prepare for the role of Willie Stark, Broderick Crawford watched newsreels of Huey Long, on whose life the novel was loosely based.

Mercedes McCambridge was cast after she got angry with the producers. She and other actresses were kept waiting in an office in New York City during open auditions. McCambridge told the producers off and stormed out of the office. They called her back and eventually cast her because she fit the part of Sadie.

Notes

Robert Rossen's onscreen credit reads "Written for the screen and directed by." Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was loosely based on the life and career of Louisiana governor and U.S. Senator Huey Long (1893-1935), whose "Share-the-Wealth" national program featured the slogan "Every man a king." As governor, Long, nicknamed "The Kingfish," instituted a successful program of public works and welfare legislation. Noted for his demagoguery and the political machine he created in Louisiana, he was assassinated while serving as a U.S. Senator. Although Long's son Russell denied that there was any resemblance between "Willie Stark" and his father, Broderick Crawford studied newsreel footage of Long while preparing for the film, according to a 1950 article in Los Angeles Times.
       In adapting the novel for the screen, Rossen made many changes: While the focus of the film is the character of Willie Stark, Jack Burden is the focus in the novel. Willie's political party is unidentified in the picture, as is the state that elects him to political office. In the film, Jack provides an intermittent voice-over narration. Portions of the film were shot on location in small towns near Stockton in central California. According to a July 3, 1947 Los Angeles Daily News news item, Humphrey Bogart was considered for a lead role. In 1948, Norman Corwin was hired to write a draft of the screenplay, according to a March 29, 1950 Hollywood Reporter article. 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. John Derek completed this film prior to Knock on Any Door , but Knock on Any Door was released first and is generally considered to be Derek's debut film. After Rossen took the Fifth Amendment when he was questioned by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1951, Columbia broke all connections with him and bought all rights and residuals in the films he made for the studio, including All the King's Men and The Brave Bulls. In 1953, Rossen again appeared before the committee and named fifty-seven people in Hollywood who had at one time belonged to the Communist Party.
       The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture; Crawford won the Oscar for Best Actor; and Mercedes McCambridge, who made her screen debut in this picture, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film also received the following Academy Award nominations: John Ireland, Best Supporting Actor; Rossen, Best Director and Best Screenplay; Robert Parrish and Al Clark, Best Editing. In 2005, Columbia Pictures produced another version of Robert Penn Warren's novel under the same title, directed by Steven Zaillian and starring Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslet. The film was planned for a December 2005 release.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1949

Released in United States March 1976

Re-released in United States on Video February 13, 1996

Released in USA on video.

Selected in 2001 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

The story is inspired by the life of Louisiana governor Huey Long.

Released in United States 1949

Re-released in United States on Video February 13, 1996

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Programs - The Americas: A National Portrait) March 18-31, 1976.)