Best Picture Review: All the King’s Men (1949)

All the Kings Men (1949)
All the King's Men (1949)

We did it!  Lauren and I have made it through the 1940s.  We’ll finally be getting into some color in the 50s it looks like.  The 40s started out pretty good with Mrs. Miniver and Casablanca, but ended weakly with three straight snoozers, including 1949’s All the King’s Men (Lauren highly disagrees).

Who would have thought that I could actually start a movie after midnight and see the end of it?  And now daylight savings time kicked in, so I just lost an hour.  I haven’t seen 3am in a while.  That afternoon nap did wonders, I guess.

Anyway… All the King’s Men is a movie based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Robert Penn Warren.  The movie is based in Louisiana, focusing on the political career of Willie Stark, who begins a simple man running for a county seat and winds up governor.

The “narrator” of the whole story is Jack Burden, a newspaper reporter who takes an interest in Stark’s political career.  He quits his job to become Stark’s right-hand man, following him across the state, standing by his side.  Stark winds up winning the governor’s race because of his honesty and ability to relate to the “hicks”.  He promises new hospitals, schools, and lots else, and actually delivers.  But in the process, he becomes just as corrupt as some of the politicians before him, which leads to a weird love affair, his impeachment hearing, and ultimately (60-year spoiler alert!) murder.

I actually was pretty intrigued at the start of the movie, but as things went on I lost interest.  Not having much interest in politics, I began daydreaming and may have even missed a minute or two here or there.

The movie won not only Best Picture, but the awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.  The lead man, Broderick Crawford, seemed an awful lot like Rodney Dangerfield, from the way he looked and the way he talked.  The role of Willie Stark was initially offered to John Wayne, but he hastily rejected it and wound up losing to Crawford in the Best Actor category that year.

I thought the acting was pretty good throughout.  Again, the story had its moments and started strong, but became too predictable as it wore on.  Having just barely finished watching Hamlet minutes earlier, I thought this might seem a lot better by comparison, but in the end I think the two were equally uninteresting.  I’d have to rank this just ahead of Hamlet on the list.

Here are my overall 1940s rankings, remembering that we had to skip 1940’s Rebecca due to it not being available on Netflix!  I have a feeling my rankings are completely unique to anyone else who has seen these movies… I have some unusual tastes.

  1. Mrs. Miniver (1942)
  2. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  3. Casablanca (1943)
  4. Going My Way (1944)
  5. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
  6. The Lost Weekend (1946)
  7. All the King’s Men (1949)
  8. Hamlet (1948)
  9. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)

Next up, 1950’s All About Eve.  I’ve heard very good things!

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