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
consciencecharacters are a big bore. Look at Body and Soulfor 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 agreat 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
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 ScreenGems 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.