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All the King's Men: Hoo-boy, this ain't too good!


JonnyGeetar
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Wow.

 

Often times I watch movies out of sync, Twice I've caught the last hour of All the King's Men but never seen the beginning, As of now, I've seen the whole thing,

 

I didn't like it before, I really hate it now.

 

Now, I admit it has been some 14 years since I read the book- but I recall loving it. It's rich, nuanced, quintessentially _SOUTHERN_ , deeply characterized, and deftly plotted (although I do recall a strange, 80 page non sequitor where a story about the Civil War intrudes on the plot, but the rest of the book is so Crackerjack, it doesn't matter.) The author himself said it had stronger roots in Mythology than politics and in the end, I just remember it being one hell of a read.

 

But this thing, forgive me, *SUCKS*

 

Why is it not set in the South? Why is it set in "Anystate, USA: Population: a bunch of extras from The Grapes of Wrath " ? Were they scared of somehow offending the South? (Personally, I think the South could take it.) Why was Broderick Crawford a star? No, I really mean it. He is _awful_ (and no, I have no formal acting training, but I can relaize a charismaless ham without the slightest ability to tinge any line with meaning, depth or even inflection when I see one.) Every second he is on screen positively CLUNKS.

 

Seriously, Kirk Douglas lost to this ?

 

Not a suble moment, not a clever line, not a moment of cinematic flourish- the scene where the stairwell at the school collapses, and we hear screaming and someone _shakes the camera_ : THAT won Best Direction?!

 

And I like Mercedes McCambridge, but what an over-the-top, teeth-gnashing, vitriol-filled turn...

 

"Do you want your kids to grow up to be as ignorant as you? You HICKS?"- we're supposed to believe that this guy would win public office?

 

And again, I throw in: WHY IS THIS NOT SET IN THE SOUTH??!!? THE NOVEL IS, IT MAKES SENSE. IT'S BASED ON HUEY LONG FER CHRISSAKE!

 

Was everyone HIGH in 1949?

 

So many questions, anyone have ANY answers?

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Feb 23, 2011 9:03 PM

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And what is this crap with Stark's son and the football injury and all this nonsense? Someone who remembers the book better than me, please fill me in: is that in the book? 'Cause I don't remember it (and if it was, they should have left it out.)

 

And dear God John Ireland is stiff! And Joanne Dru is...well, Joanne Dru.

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Feb 23, 2011 9:24 PM

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Okay, I know it's tacky to reply twice to my own thread, but I was just watching the half-assed Citizen Kane newsreel moment where they talk about the accomplishments of Willie Stark "Messiah or Dictator?" and mention the six lane roads he built for all the "horse and buggies."

 

They show a picture of "Stark College" and there are _several GIANT TROPICAL DATE PALMS in front of it_

 

So this takes place in California? Florida? Nevada? With a little bit of Pennsylvania Dutch country thrown in?

 

Anyone?

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Feb 23, 2011 9:30 PM

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote}

> Try *Louisiana*, since the novel was based on the life and times of *Huey Long*, who had aspirations of becoming President, but got stopped, dead in his tracks by a bullet.

 

Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana where Long was assassinated at the very capital where you can still see bullet holes in the marble where he was shot.

 

Robert Penn Warren was a Southern Agrarian...

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This film was fairly hot back in 1949. This was just 14 years after Long was shot. It would be like a movie being made today, about some political event of 1997.

 

I think it was the first film that was the most obviously about or similar to the Huey Long story. I first saw it in ?49 or ?50.

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote}

> Try *Louisiana*, since the novel was based on the life and times of *Huey Long*, who had aspirations of becoming President, but got stopped, dead in his tracks by a bullet.

 

Then why does no one in it have an even vaguely southern accent?

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> {quote:title=hamradio wrote:}{quote} it could had been pine trees instead of palm.

 

Nope. They were giant date palms which I am pretty sure are exclusive to the southwest (I worked at a wholesale nursery on Southern California and am pretty well-versed in me trees.) Plus I checked out the "goofs" section on imdb and they confirmed it.

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> {quote:title=Swithin wrote:}{quote}

> Well, JG, quite a nice conversation you are having! *All the King's Men* is a truly great novel -- even though as a Yankee I don't quite understand all that pr about the Great Southern Novel, I think *All the King's Men* is the best.

>

> I agree it's not a great film. But it occurred to me -- based on your name, JG, that your problem stems from the fact that you hate Mercedes McCambridge! You won't forgive her for what she did to Joan Crawford in *Johnny Guitar*. That's why you have a problem with *All the King's Men*.

>

> Did you see Broderick Crawford's mother -- Helen Broderick -- dancing with Victor Moore in Swing Time? Now that's a great scene!

 

 

1. I am Southern. Very southern, This film has not a trace of anything even remotely southern about it. It's like doing an adaptation of Great Expectations set in Paramus, New Jersey; or The Sound and the Fury set in Sao Tome. Sure, you can do it, but why??!

 

2. Love Mercedes McCambridge (sic?). Love her in Touch of Evil ; Love, love her in Johnny Guitar (and let's no forget who gets the upper hand in that catfight), enjoy her very much in Suddenly Last Summer and to some degree in Giant . _This_ thing? Eh, notsomuch. But I'm glad she won an Oscar some time.

 

3. I like Helen Broderick in Swing Time very, very much. Wish some of her earthiness, humanity, and acting ability hadn't been (apparently) recessive,

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I see you didn't got the point was trying to make, you do realize that this movie was made in 1949 before the era of *shooting on location!* Even if it could had been done back then, filming in the South, it would had been cost prohibited.

 

This is why Hollywood before the 1980's did most of the filming on back lots, sound stages, or maybe at times in areas confined to the California landscape. Even though its not perfect, the weather in California can be as, if not HOTTER than the deep south.

 

Do you think the "10 Commandments" was actually shot in Egypt? "Ice Station Zebra" at the North Pole or around the artic circle?

 

Read this about "Its a Wonderful Life" http://www.seeing-stars.com/locations/40sLocations.shtml

 

MovieProfessor might can add to this post. The history of backlot and on location filming.

 

Making the mistakes you see in "All the King's Men" if done *today* would be unforgivable.

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I don't know why they took it out of the South. Perhaps Rossen -- if it was at least partly his decision -- wanted to make it more universal. The South was Another Country to many Americans, and maybe Rossen who was definitly a political and social activist wanted to show that the many ills that were depicted in the film could happen anywhere. Perhaps he thought that the message would have been diminished if The South were a strong presence.

 

Regarding the Oscars, it was in fact a weak year. Yes, I know, if you look at the nominees you'll see the names of films that we all love. But nothing quite jumps out; and I guess, for the voters, for many reasons, *All the King's Men* did.

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> hamradio wrote:

> MovieProfessor might can add to this post. The history of backlot and on location filming.

 

I will add something to the thread by saying that the film was about 90 percent shot on location, entirely around areas of Southern California. This was for any studio at the time, somewhat unheard of and my guess is the main reason for this was a fear by everyone involved as to the subject matter. I?ve always believed that it wasn?t so much the limited budget, but that Columbia Pictures feared some political repercussions, especially from the Long family that was still very powerful and had some influence. Studio boss Harry Cohn took some risks in taking on the novel. He then decided it would be best for technical reasons to allow a sort of low-key atmosphere over the project and therefore not give it much attention. This is why the film appears at times to be so sparse and its production values are not coherent with what you?d expect from a studio shot motion picture. It's as if director Rossen was attempting to blend a documentary style within a standard drama. Of course, this wasn?t going to be so obviously easy, when you consider the novel was a national best seller and everybody who knew something about the Huey Long saga. Cohn knew he had something of a winner with the idea of creating a film version; all due in large part to the Huey Long perspective and this is probably why the film had such an enormous impact when finally released.

I?ve always felt that the script was more metaphorical, or had to be so, than pose a sense of reality. In a strange way of thinking, the film sort of added to the Long legend from a distorted view, because both the novel and then the film create extensions of the Huey Long story that are questionable, if not, emblematic of hearsay and gossip. Nobody could argue that the whole idea of the novel, turned motion picture had an intriguing affect as to have a movie made and then give off with reactions towards what everyone knew to be the real imagery and life of one of the most controversial demigods of American politics.

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Here?s a list of the locations filmed in ?All the King?s Men?:

 

California, USA

 

 

Fairfield, California, USA

 

 

Northern California, California, USA

 

 

San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta, California, USA

 

 

Stockton, California, USA

 

 

Suisun, California, USA

(election scenes)

 

 

University of the Pacific, Stockton, California, USA

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041113/locations

 

California is a unique state, having all kinds of scenery that looks similar to scenery from all over the US. Such as the high snow-covered mountains up around Donner?s Pass, the giant redwoods which were used for many logging films, the Sacramento River which was most often used as the Mississippi River, complete with several steamboats that were used as tourist travel boats in the ?30s and ?40s.

 

There are areas of California with large oak trees covered with Spanish moss (like southern Mississippi and Louisiana), swamps, grass covered hills around Bakersfield like the Little-Big Horn battle location in Montana. Farmland filled with **** looking people in the central California agricultural valley. Mexican looking towns down near the Mexico border. Spanish and Moorish looking buildings all around San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. Flat grassland in Northern California. Sea coast of all kinds all up the Pacific coast. A big Chinatown in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles. Many communities of various kinds of ethnic foreigners.

 

All kinds of different desert areas, including a large sand desert East of San Diego, and many areas of large hills, rocks, and boulders, such as around Chatsworth in the North San Fernando Valley.

 

One of the most amazing film scenes was a duplicate of Chilkoot Pass in ?The Gold Rush? (1925), filmed in the Sierra Nevadas in Norteastern California.

 

The real Chilkoot pass in Alaska in 1898:

 

http://klondike.sammamishtrails.org/Portals/5/Miners_climb_Chilkoot.jpg

 

http://www.corbisimages.com/images/67/758EA6D3-5FB1-41F0-8F6B-C2522389A333/MH001895.jpg

 

http://jerre.com/TandN/OldPaper/Films/GoldRush/cpass.jpg

 

Charlie Chaplin?s amazing opening scene of Chilkoot Pass filmed in Northern California in 1925, a fantastic and expensive scene to shoot, and it lasted for only 31 seconds in the final movie.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOrju-kgoec

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I'd have to watch it again to see how "southern" it is. But, if I remember correctly,

didn't most of the actors at least attempt a southern accent, and weren't there a

few of the old black family retainers who often show up in a movie set in the south.

You've got to start somewhere.

 

Maybe it would be a good idea to develop a "set in the south" checklist, so as each

indication of "southerness," however superficial, appears in a movie, it can be checked

off. Old black family retainer, check. White suit with panama hat, check, etc.

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> C.Bogle . .

 

In reference to this issue, I?d like to mention a somewhat technically particular situation. It concerns the 1970 filmed drama (about the south!), based on the William Faulkner novel, ?The Reivers.? The tale takes place in and around the city of Memphis. Well, if you know something of your geography, you?d know that the area around the City and Mississippi River is absolutely flat. When watching the movie, you obviously can see high rolling hills and a typical California, mountainous background. Must a film be so ?landscape correct??

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> C.Bogle . .

 

Another famous film, the 1946 "The Yearling" had about 40 percent of the the film shot in areas of central Flordia. However, the one scene of the town was shot in Northern California. One might ask: How so? Once again it's all a matter of geography. You can see a hilly and somewhat moutainous background. The Ocala area of central Florida is very much flat! Well, no matter what, "The Yearling" is still to my estimation, a great film!

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There is location, and there is location. I used to live in Queens, NY. One day in the late 1980s, I came home from work on a May spring day and saw snow on the windows in the train station and 1940s cars on the street. The shops had signs in Yiddish. Then I saw a director's chair which said Mr. Mazursky. I was told they were filming *Enemies, a Love Story*. The scene they were shooting represented the Bronx in the 1940s.

 

The fact is, the Queens of the 1980s looked more like the Bronx of the 1940s than the Bronx did in the 1980s! So on location, can mean out of the studio, but not in the exact location where the action is said to take place. There are plenty of examples of this. My favorite Southern film, *Wise Blood*, is supposed to take place in Tennessee. It was shot in and around Macon, Georgia. I saw *King of the Khyber Rifles* recently, set in the North of India, around the Khyber Pass. It was shot in the American West.

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(Sigh)

 

Thank you everyone for patting me on the head, handing me a piece of hard candy and explaining (at considerable length) the concept of location shooting, heretofore me had no idee that they did not shoot films in where they was set.

 

Look: forget the palm trees (even if it was sloppy on the part of the A.D.- apparently Don Seigel- who comprised the newsreel footage.)

 

_Where is Broderick Crawford's Southern accent?_ He sounds like Tony Soprano for every second he is onscreen. Where is John Ireland's southern accent? Why does the film bend over ****-backwards to try and give no sense whatsoever of time, place, and location? It has no character at all. A southern setting has nothing to do with panama hats and smiling black servants (a big BOO! to whoever wrote that!) Would The Little Foxes be the same movie if no one spoke with an accent and we had no sense of where and when it took place? Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ? People here mentioned The Reivers and The Yearling as examples of southern films not filmed in the south- to which I say "duh." You can also tack on In the Heat of the Night to that- but at least the people have accents.

 

It's a crummy, crummy movie, (Can't recommend the book any more highly though.)

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Feb 24, 2011 9:28 AM

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I started watching it, and kept asking myself, "How did this film ever win the Oscar"? "How did Crawford ever win the Oscar"? 1949 was the year of THE HEIRESS, A LETTER TO THREE WIVES, MADAME BOVARY, many fine noirs, etc., etc. Crawford was good in certain types of roles, (THE MOB, SCANDAL SHEET), but not this one.

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> Swithin . . .

 

I look at it this way: In 1958, I was in and around the Florida Keys and Key West, where "Operation "Petticoat," with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis was being filmed. Well, in a technical sense, the Florida coastal islands that are flat and tropical were a perfect match to make the movie. Had Universal Pictures decided on shooting the film more so at the studio, a bit of authenticity would have been lost. Of course, helping along the way of the production was the naval base at Key West, where a vintage World War 2 submarine was acquired. While, I can't really fault a film company for having to make choices that aren't so necessarily correct on a technical basis of thinking, it can at times hinder the very afterthought and nature to what obviously becomes a point that logically speaking is questionable. Most films can get away with the issue of location, if a majority of the audience can't make the basic geographical connection.

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}

> I started watching it, and kept asking myself, "How did this film ever win the Oscar"? Crawford was good in certain types of roles, (THE MOB, SCANDAL SHEET), but not this one.

 

I dunno, I kind of think Crawford was just good at that one, same role in EVERY film he did. It's the WORST PERFORMANCE TO EVER WIN A LEADING OSCAR THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN. (note: I have not seen anything made in the last eight years, so maybe you folks can challenge that statement.)

 

I know some people find Kirk Douglas too intense, but seriously, show the last three minutes of Champion to anyone out there, then show them Crawford at any given moment in this thing and ask them if they think the Academy is infallible.

 

NO OF COMPETITIVE ACTING OSCARS WON:

Brod Crawford: 1

Borgnine: 1

Roberto Benigni: 1

Cary Grant: 0

Chaplin: 0

Peter O'Toole: 0

Edward G. Robinson: 0 (never nominated)

Mickey Rooney: 0

John Barrymoore: 0

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