by guest writer
All The King’s Men (1949) is among the very original American movies of the late 1940s. The third feature directed by writer and director Robert Rossen is also one of his best, along with Body and Soul (1947) and The Hustler (1961). Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) is the film’s main character. His road from being a nobody to being a state governor makes this production a benchmark for the future political themes approached by other filmmakers. All the King’s Men stands the test of time as being one of the most objective analysis of human corruptness and morality.
The film starts with a flashback as seen by one of Stark’s most trusted men, the journalist Jack Burden (John Ireland). Reaching the height of his social status means everything to Stark, but in doing so he is slowly dehumanized and stripped out of his senses of equitable and fair justice. It all becomes a game of whom and how to blackmail at the right time by the principle ‘everybody has something to hide’. The climax of the film coincides with the ending that gives the movie its bleak dark end. Realistic and very bold, All the King’s Men was the backbone for the future 60’s and 70’s political thrillers and Willie Stark is a haunting character if we are to look at the current worldwide politics.
photo: still from the film | credit: Columbia Pictures Corp.