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Friday, April 25, 2014

Election Results Are In


All The King's Men (1949) A Winner On Blu-Ray

I admit right off to rooting for Willie Stark. The heavies to me were the righteous lot of Robert Rossen stand-ins armed with pipes and intellect but no solution to problems Willie solves. In short, he's a can-do guy, and that's what we like best in movies. Rossen forgets (again) that conscience characters are a big bore. Look at Body and Soul for him making same mistakes as director. Part of my Willie thing may be love of Brod. He could never do wrong, and I'm glad they gave him an Oscar so parts could be bigger henceforth. Cards are stacked on Willie and we're not permitted much insight into progress he makes. The bad guy emerges and doesn't change except for getting worse. Crawford is lots of fun for playing it like one of countless bruisers he essayed for Universal and elsewhere. He deserved Academy plaudits for bravura that every now and then throws Rossen off plodding message.


All the southerners are toothless hicks, of course (I still have all my teeth, however), or wily snakes like Ralph Dumke, whose very face is a map of corruption and lends fun for being nakedly obvious about it. John Ireland is supposed to be the audience ID figure, but is so dense catching on to reality of things that I stopped identifying with him. How do we know Mercedes McCambridge was a great actress? I say the way she reacts when Ireland gives her a hard slap: OWWW!, which is exactly what real people would exclaim after such a whack, but almost never do in movies. It's a great scene, for which she got a deserved Supporting Actress statue. Another deathless moment is when Willie casts off his prepared speech and shoots from the hip to a rally crowd, here where I suspect BC clinched his AA.


Columbia had pledged 67 features for the 1949-50 season, 31 to be "Double A's budgeted upward from $750K," said Variety. The year's biggest noise besides All The King's Men would be Jolson Sings Again, on which much hope was hung. King's Men got the full Klieg treatment at its 11/16/49 Pantages open, with fifty stars in attendance and bleachers set for gawking. Radio coverage and a parade supplied augment. Thanks-be kicker was White House request for a print that President Truman could show guests at his Key West retreat. That came mid-December with trumpets blown by Columbia as lead-up to Academy bestow of three gold men, including most coveted Best Picture. King's took $2.4 million in domestic rentals, which didn't beat Jolson, but left all other Columbia stuff in shade. The pic would enhance Screen Gems TV packaging from early 60's availability to syndication, and now shines on Blu-Ray from Twilight Time. My recommend is to grab it, nix Rossen's sermonizing, and enjoy Brod Crawford with all stops pulled.

4 Comments:

Blogger opticalguy said...

I sympathize with your preference for Willie Stark. I have a similar liking for McGinty in THE GREAT MCGINTY. Sure they skim off 25% of each public works project but the projects get built! Unlike the last couple of decades where the money disappears into weapons no body uses and subsidies for billionaires and supposedly profitable corporations and we are left with nothing! And it may be insincere but Starke and McGinty at least pay lip-service to the average working Joes and never refer to them as "takers!" Sorry for the rant.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

The thing I always noticed about Ralph Dumke was his one-of-a-kind voice.

1:49 PM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

This film was banned in Argentina for years. Willie Stark was too similar to Juan Domingo Perón. When he was ousted from power in 1955 the film was finally released.

And here is the poster that Columbia issued at the time (with Willie as a "descamizado").

http://www.cartelespeliculas.com/galeria/albums/userpics/10118/1949_-_ALL_THE_KING_S_MEN_-_Robert_Rossen_%28argentino%29.jpg

2:59 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Dan Mercer addresses Broderick Crawford and "All The King's Men":


Crawford is great playing a character based, of course, on Huey Long, the Louisiana governor who also built up a power base on populist politics and personal favors. But he got things done in the midst of the Depression. Before he was cut down by an assassin's bullet--or maybe from one of his bodyguard--he was the one politician in America whose popularity rivaled that of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The movie is big and imminently watchable, but something of a thematic and artistic mess. The Willie Stark character changes from a naïve small towner to an anything goes wheeler dealer without any suggestion of the darkness that must have been within him all the time. Dialog goes from everyday grit to blank verse with scarcely a warning. Worse is contrast between the smooth, Hollywood-style compositions with which most of the story is told and the newsreel-type grab 'em shots of the crowd scenes. Rossen probably found the latter exciting and potent, but the effect was, "here's reality, folks," making everything else seem phony.

What holds it together is Crawford's charismatic performance, the one opportunity he had in a long career to play a part as big as he was.

Daniel

9:04 AM  

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