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All the King's Men

  PG-13 HD Closed Captioning

Steven Zaillian

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Plot Summary

The legacy of a populist Southern politician whose lofty ambitions for the future leave him open to corruption and scandal is detailed as author Robert Penn Warren's thinly veiled portrait of Depression-era Louisiana governor Huey Long comes to the screen — again — this time courtesy of director and screenwriter Steven Zaillian. Willie Stark (Sean Penn) is a man of the people, and for the people; at least that's what he tells the people. Propelled into a race for governor by opposing forces looking to split the "hick vote," Stark is convinced by a handler — as well as by young journalist Jack Burden (Jude Law) — to not kowtow to the powers that be. His rhetoric grows fiery, and he makes his way into office on a not-so-solid foundation of social-service promises. When idealism gives way to the harsh realities of the time, however, the fast-talking politico is quick to discover just how far one can fall when ambition and power lead to a betrayal of one's original motivations. Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Hopkins round out an all-star cast in this second version of Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 novel; the first won a parade of Oscars after its release in 1949.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 155
  • Fresh: 17
  • Rotten: 138
  • Average Rating: 4.2/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Rotten: The director can't seem to find a natural rhythm for the movie -- it's portentous and vague at the same time. – David Denby, New Yorker, Jul 15, 2007

Rotten: It has a labored feel. The editing is choppy, allowing little of the film to flow naturally. – Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle, Sep 23, 2006

Rotten: Failures on the scale of writer-director Steven Zaillian's All the King's Men are as rare as falling sequoias, and they make a noise even if no one's in the woods to hear them. – Jack Mathews, New York Daily News, Jun 24, 2010

Rotten: [It] isn't going to win any awards for Law, a frantically hamming Penn or anyone else involved. – Lou Lumenick, New York Post, Jul 16, 2008

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Excellent film!

"All The King's Men" is a gripping drama/period piece based on Robert Penn Warren's classic and Pulitzer Prize-winning book. The film follows idealistic Willie Stark (Sean Penn) through his successful gubernatorial race only to see him succumb to the greed and corruption of power. Highly recommended and beautifully performed!

Great movie!

Sean Penn is amazing, as usual. And Jude Law, well...he's just very nice to look at. Great movie all around - acting, plot, scenery, actors.

Not the Original but Still Great

Robert Penn Warren's novel about Louisiana politician Huey Long was first brought to the screen with Broderick Crawford in 1949. Crawford's character is also menacing and evil but Penn's is none-the-less convincing. Willie Stark rises from being an obscure and reforming local politician to being a corrupt (in all manner and ways) Governor.

The real life story of Long (whose son Russell served in the US Senate) is different than the book. Long went from being Governor to being in the US Senate. But for more than a decade he was a powerful figure in the state's politics. So at once Warren's book is a character study not a biography. But it has all the elements of a Shakespearean tragedy. Penn and the rest of the cast (including former child star Jackie Earle Hurley who is menacing as Sugar Boy - Stark's bodyguard) is superb together.

The Rotten Tomato rating is simply wrong.

All the King's Men
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  • $12.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 2006

Customer Ratings