1949's Oscar-winning offering from Columbia Pictures, All the King's Men, is an adaptation of the 1946 pulitzer-prize winning novel by Robert Penn Warren which was itself loosely-based on the real-life rise and fall of notorious Louisiana politician, Huey P. Long. Yeah... follow that? I'll wait while you read it again.
Writer-director Robert Rossen purchased the film rights and cut a deal with Columbia Pictures to make his picture, maintaining significant control. He shifted the focus from Jack Burden, as it was in the novel, to Willie Stark for the movie. Broderick Crawford stars as Stark, a charismatic Southern politician who betrays his "man of the people" roots as he ruthlessly manipulates, lies and deals his way into ultimate power. John Ireland plays his right-hand man, Burden, a former newsman who hangs on to Stark's early idealism even in the face of his snowballing corruption. Rossen originally offered the starring role to John Wayne, who vehemently turned down the part finding the script unpatriotic. Crawford, who eventually took the role, won 1949 Best Actor Academy Award, beating out Wayne for his role in Sands of Iwo Jima.
Interesting facts about the director... Rossen filmed in an unusual manner - nobody in the cast had a script. What the wha? Rossen let them read it once and took it away from them and relied on loosely scripted improvisation. According to Crawford, "We really had to stay on our toes."
I love the title lobby card in this set - the big brotheresque campaign signs and the hypersaturated colors compliment the melodramatic intensity of the stills on the three others. It feels like a hot campaign season in the south - sweaty politicians, fedoras and trenchcoats, overwrought emotions sprinkled with the stank of good old-fashioned lust for power. Sounds like a good movie to me. Below is a trailer a trailer!