All the King's Men (1950)

109-110 mins | Drama | January 1950

Director:

Robert Rossen

Writer:

Robert Rossen

Cinematographer:

Burnett Guffey

Editor:

Al Clark

Production Designer:

Sturges Carne

Production Company:

Columbia Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Robert Rossen's onscreen credit reads "Written for the screen and directed by." Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was loosely based on the life and career of Louisiana governor and U.S. Senator Huey Long (1893-1935), whose "Share-the-Wealth" national program featured the slogan "Every man a king." As governor, Long, nicknamed "The Kingfish," instituted a successful program of public works and welfare legislation. Noted for his demagoguery and the political machine he created in Louisiana, he was assassinated while serving as a U.S. Senator. Although Long's son Russell denied that there was any resemblance between "Willie Stark" and his father, Broderick Crawford studied newsreel footage of Long while preparing for the film, according to a 1950 article in LAT .
       In adapting the novel for the screen, Rossen made many changes: While the focus of the film is the character of Willie Stark, Jack Burden is the focus in the novel. Willie's political party is unidentified in the picture, as is the state that elects him to political office. In the film, Jack provides an intermittent voice-over narration. Portions of the film were shot on location in small towns near Stockton in central California. According to a 3 Jul 1947 LADN news item, Humphrey Bogart was considered for a lead role. In 1948, Norman Corwin was hired to write a draft of the screenplay, according to a 29 Mar 1950 HR article. After the release of the film, questions arose about the extent of Corwin's contributions to the completed film, but the Screen Writers Guild judged Rossen to be the sole writer. John Derek completed this film prior to ... More Less

Robert Rossen's onscreen credit reads "Written for the screen and directed by." Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was loosely based on the life and career of Louisiana governor and U.S. Senator Huey Long (1893-1935), whose "Share-the-Wealth" national program featured the slogan "Every man a king." As governor, Long, nicknamed "The Kingfish," instituted a successful program of public works and welfare legislation. Noted for his demagoguery and the political machine he created in Louisiana, he was assassinated while serving as a U.S. Senator. Although Long's son Russell denied that there was any resemblance between "Willie Stark" and his father, Broderick Crawford studied newsreel footage of Long while preparing for the film, according to a 1950 article in LAT .
       In adapting the novel for the screen, Rossen made many changes: While the focus of the film is the character of Willie Stark, Jack Burden is the focus in the novel. Willie's political party is unidentified in the picture, as is the state that elects him to political office. In the film, Jack provides an intermittent voice-over narration. Portions of the film were shot on location in small towns near Stockton in central California. According to a 3 Jul 1947 LADN news item, Humphrey Bogart was considered for a lead role. In 1948, Norman Corwin was hired to write a draft of the screenplay, according to a 29 Mar 1950 HR article. After the release of the film, questions arose about the extent of Corwin's contributions to the completed film, but the Screen Writers Guild judged Rossen to be the sole writer. John Derek completed this film prior to Knock on Any Door (See Entry), but Knock on Any Door was released first and is generally considered to be Derek's debut film. After Rossen took the Fifth Amendment when he was questioned by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1951, Columbia broke all connections with him and bought all rights and residuals in the films he made for the studio, including All the King's Men and The Brave Bulls . In 1953, Rossen again appeared before the committee and named fifty-seven people in Hollywood who had at one time belonged to the Communist Party.
       The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture; Crawford won the Oscar for Best Actor; and Mercedes McCambridge, who made her screen debut in this picture, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The film also received the following Academy Award nominations: John Ireland, Best Supporting Actor; Rossen, Best Director and Best Screenplay; Robert Parrish and Al Clark, Best Editing. In 2005, Columbia Pictures produced another version of Robert Penn Warren’s novel under the same title, directed by Steven Zaillian and starring Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslet. The film was planned for a Dec 2005 release. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Nov 1949.
---
Daily Variety
4 Nov 49
p. 3, 6
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1952.
---
Film Daily
7 Nov 49
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 48
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 49
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 49
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 50
p. 1, 8
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 50
p. 1, 7
Los Angeles Daily News
3 Jul 1947.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 May 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald
5 Nov 1949.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Nov 49
p. 73.
New York Times
9 Nov 49
p. 37.
New York Times
20 Nov 1949.
---
Variety
9 Nov 49
p. 6.
Variety
29 Mar 1950.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Les Sketchley
Jack Gordon
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Robert Rossen's Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
Wrt for the scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus dir
SOUND
Sd eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Grip
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren (New York, 1946).
DETAILS
Release Date:
January 1950
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 November 1949
Production Date:
29 November 1948--26 January 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
5 January 1950
Copyright Number:
LP2764
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
109-110
Length(in feet):
9,873
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13747
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Reporter Jack Burden is sent to cover the campaign of Willie Stark, a small-town Southern reform candidate for county treasurer. Willie is determined to expose government corruption, and those in power are equally determined that he will not be allowed to run. After Willie is released from jail, having been arrested for illegally holding a political rally, he takes Jack home to meet his father, his wife Lucy, a former schoolteacher, and their teenaged, adopted son Tom. Jack is impressed by the Starks's fortitude and, convinced of Willie's honesty, writes a series of favorable articles about him. On a trip home to Burden's Landing, Jack's wealthy stepfather, Floyd McEvoy, scoffs at the idea that Willie is honest and unbuyable. Later, Jack proposes marriage to Anne Stanton, the niece of their neighbor, Judge Stanton, and sister of his best friend, Adam, but she turns him down. Willie loses the election but later, with Lucy's tutoring, acquires a law degree. Sometime later, several grade-school children are killed when a fire escape they are using collapses during a fire drill, and Willie files a damage suit against the builders. The voters, remembering his charge that the building contract went to a relative of the county commissioner, are now willing to support Willie. Threatened by a serious reform movement, corrupt state politicians convince Willie to run for governor, thinking that he will split the reform vote and allow their candidate to win. Jack travels with the campaign but, like the voters, is unimpressed by Willie's dull, fact-filled speeches. One evening, while Jack works with Willie to improve his oratorical skills, Sadie Burke, who has been sent on the campaign ... +


Reporter Jack Burden is sent to cover the campaign of Willie Stark, a small-town Southern reform candidate for county treasurer. Willie is determined to expose government corruption, and those in power are equally determined that he will not be allowed to run. After Willie is released from jail, having been arrested for illegally holding a political rally, he takes Jack home to meet his father, his wife Lucy, a former schoolteacher, and their teenaged, adopted son Tom. Jack is impressed by the Starks's fortitude and, convinced of Willie's honesty, writes a series of favorable articles about him. On a trip home to Burden's Landing, Jack's wealthy stepfather, Floyd McEvoy, scoffs at the idea that Willie is honest and unbuyable. Later, Jack proposes marriage to Anne Stanton, the niece of their neighbor, Judge Stanton, and sister of his best friend, Adam, but she turns him down. Willie loses the election but later, with Lucy's tutoring, acquires a law degree. Sometime later, several grade-school children are killed when a fire escape they are using collapses during a fire drill, and Willie files a damage suit against the builders. The voters, remembering his charge that the building contract went to a relative of the county commissioner, are now willing to support Willie. Threatened by a serious reform movement, corrupt state politicians convince Willie to run for governor, thinking that he will split the reform vote and allow their candidate to win. Jack travels with the campaign but, like the voters, is unimpressed by Willie's dull, fact-filled speeches. One evening, while Jack works with Willie to improve his oratorical skills, Sadie Burke, who has been sent on the campaign by the political machine to keep an eye on Willie, tells him the truth--that he is a decoy. The next day, in the best speech of his career, a hungover Willie presents the facts to his audience, telling them that they are "hicks" just like him. Although he loses the election, he has learned what it will take to win in the future. Four years later, Willie again runs for governor and hires Jack as his aide. This time, he finances his campaign by making deals with anyone who will help him. On a trip to Burden's Landing with Jack, Willie admits that he has made promises, but argues persuasively that good can come out of evil and thus wins the support of the Stantons, particularly Anne. After he is elected, Willie pushes bills through the legislature, instituting benefits for farmers and allocating money for schools, football stadiums and hospitals. He also starts drinking heavily and pursuing young women, to the disgust of Sadie, who has become his mistress. Willie appoints Stanton to the office of Attorney General, but Stanton resigns when Willie suppresses information about graft in his administration. Willie then assigns Jack to dig up scandal in Stanton's background. Although he is reluctant, Jack is too dependent on Willie to refuse, even after Sadie reveals Willie's ongoing affair with Anne. After a drunken Tom causes the death of Helene Hale during a driving accident, he publicly admits his guilt, despite Willie's attempts to cover up the incident. Willie then offers Helene's father a bribe, which is refused. Later, Willie insists that Tom play in a football game, and Tom ends up paralyzed after an injury sustained in the accident is exacerbated. When Adam refuses to head Willie's new medical center, Jack shows Anne the evidence he has uncovered about the judge and offers to keep it a secret if Adam takes the job. Then Hale is killed, and Stanton accuses Willie of murder. As impeachment proceedings begin, Willie demands that Jack disclose what he has discovered about Stanton. Privately, Jack begs Stanton to stop the proceedings, and is stunned when Willie reveals that he already knows about the judge's background. Stanton commits suicide, and Jack, suspecting that Anne was the source of Willie's information, quits his job in disgust. When Willie is not impeached, Adam shoots him during a victory speech and is killed himself by the police. After Jack unsuccessfully tries to convince Anne to reveal the truth about Willie to the crowd, Willie dies in Jack's arms, without understanding why he has been killed. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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