A man of humble beginnings and honest intentions rises to power by nefarious means. Along for the wild ride are an earnest reporter, a heretofore classy society girl, and a too-clever-for-her-own-good political flack.
Honesty, integrity, corruption and murder! Willie Stark is an upstanding pillar of the community, when he is coaxed into standing in the local election he gets a thirst for politics. As he progresses through the political ranks he loses sight of the very things that he first stood for, with him, and all those associated with him getting muddier by the day. Adapted by Robert Rossen (director and screenplay) from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Robert Penn Warren, All The King's Men is the story about the rise and fall of a rotten politician. Almost certainly based on Louisiana Governor, Huey Pierce Long, it's a towering piece of work that is as politically cynical as it is ego centrically human. Not merely just another film about "when good guys go bad", this picture serves notice to the many things that drives politics on, for better or worse. The role of the press is under scrutiny for example, and just how come simple things such as rallies can be staged by some conniving aide sitting at the back? All roads in this gritty piece are paved with suspicious looking stones, the very foundations of which have been murkily formed. It's a testament to Rossen and his excellent cast that All The King's Men is still as potent today as it obviously was back at the tail end of the 40s. Every once in a while a similarly themed film will come our way, but few, if any, can boast the hard hitting realism that seams throughout Rossen's film. Helped by location shooting at run down Stockton in California, and boosted by a powerhouse performance from Broderick Crawford as Stark, this film most definitely is a hallmark in the political genre. Nominated for seven Academy Awards, it won three in the main categories, Best Actor (Crawford), Best Picture (rightly) and Best Supporting Actress (Mercedes McCambridge with an incredible debut performance). 9/10