In a bravura performance, Broderick Crawford won the 1949 Academy Award for Best Actor with his stunning portrayal of bull-headed, backwoods lawyer Willie Stark, in this powerful drama about political and personal corruption. A somber but realistic chronicle of raw, brutal power in force, ALL THE KING'S MEN is based on Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. It was brought to the screen in 1949 by producer Robert Rossen who also wrote the screenplay and directed the film. The story was inspired by the rise and fall of southern bigwig Huey Pierce Long, the infamous "Kingfish" who was Louisiana's governor and one-time senator. Long's cunning tactics of building public works during the depression to serve his own needs more than those of his constituents eventually brought about his own assassination in 1935. A compelling story of a self-made, self-styled politician, it was politics that almost prevented Rossen from making ALL THE KING'S MEN in the first place when he was named by the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities in 1947 for having Communist sympathies. Rossen's denial of this to Columbia chief Harry Cohn enables him to continue work on the film; but his earlier radicalism eventually surfaced and Rossen made only one film (The Brave Bulls) in the next five years. Nonetheless, ALL THE KING'S MEN remains a hallmark political film with superb performances throughout. John Ireland garnered an Academy Award nomination for his role as Stark's tortured right-hand man, while Mercedes McCambridge won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Sadie Burke, Stark's callous, conniving political aide. In addition, the film won an Academy Award for Best Picture along with nominations for Directing, Writing and Film Editing.
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Ratings and Reviews
Critics Consensus: Broderick Crawford is spellbinding as politician Willie Stark in director Robert Rossen's adaptation of the Robert Penn Warren novel about the corrosive effects of power on the human soul.
Details the rise and fall of a Southern politician.