Jul 23, 2016

All the King's Men

Having taken some time to reflect on the 1940s's Best Picture winners, it feels just that All The King's Men would be the winner to close out the decade. Having previously broached topics of War, Religion, Alcoholism, Anti-Semitism, we end with the darker side of Politics, very much in line with the Academy's affinity for 'prestige' fare.

All The King's Men is safe moviegoing. It tackles an Important Subject as best as the 1940s filmmaking might allow, which is to say, effective yet hardly game-changing. I was actually pretty intrigued by the subject matter, finding Willie Stark's descent into political corruption quite fascinating, though the simultaneous storyline with Jack Burden (at least, in the way in which it is executed within the film) sterilizes the plot a bit and prevents the flow of the narrative from really packing a punch; I was much more interested in Broderick Crawford than I was John Ireland, yet the latter is the person we're witness to more.

Overall, I found the acting to be solid all across the board (though top honors definitely goes to Mercedes McCambridge, who approaches her simple role with such reinvigorating complexity and translucence). The editing and direction are good enough, but ultimately there's an electricity that's broadly missing...that which appears in bursts when Crawford is involved but dissipates not long after he's offscreen again. Averaging out the scores of the last nine Best Picture winners, we're left with a 3.1, indicating a batch that varies from excellent to not. So to that first point I made -- All the King's Men plops right in the middle, neither impactful nor forgettable, and an appropriate enough winner given this decade's preferences.


  1. I don't really like this movie. In my opinion it's rather heavy-handed and not particularly well-written, the editing is rather poor and even distracting (was I the only one who was bothered by the fact that many scenes just sort of ended too soon while there was still something to say?) and the acting is in my opinion rather poor, with one single exception. Joanne Dru was rather awful in my opinion.

  2. This is an okay film, not great and nothing special, but still entertaining. Crawford's bluster is effective though repetitive and the character is rather one dimensional. I'd have preferred a more complex characterization, but that's also due to the writing. "A Letter to Three Wives" - a film inferior to this - nonetheless took Direction and Screenplay Oscars over ATKM, which indicates the Academy's love for this film was muted. The one outstanding achievement is Mercedes McCambridge, who justly earned an Oscar. She's audacious, hard-bitten and charismatic. A wonderful performance.