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


JonnyGeetar
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And as I've said, there's a difference between "on location," meaning in the exact spot the location is said to take place; and not in a studio, which can also mean "on location", such as the films I gave examples of. It is said the Von Sternberg apologized to the Pasha of Marrakech because people said the sets for *Morocco* looked just like that city. An artist like Von Sternberg wants the kind of control you can't get "on location." (There's a great piece online about that most wonderful of scenes, the Ambrose Chapel setting of the 1956 *Man Who Knew Too Much*.)

 

In the end, perhaps a great filmmaker is like Gertrude Stein, "I write for myself and strangers," which can mean that the majority of people won't really know or care, for the most part, whether the venue is exactly where is says it is.

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I have to admit not knowing where the film was supposed to take place I thought it was set in the South or Midwest. Well I definitely didn't think the North.

 

I actually thought it was pretty good film although not as good as the Heiress which was also nominated that year (I have not seen the other films that were nominated).

 

Is this the Best Oscar winner? Definitely not! Is it the worst? Not even close.

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> {quote:title=Kinokima wrote:}{quote}> I actually thought it was pretty good film although not as good as the Heiress which was also nominated that year (I have not seen the other films that were nominated).

>

> Is this the Best Oscar winner? Definitely not! Is it the worst? Not even close.

 

I don't know, I actually DO think it's close.

 

Yes, The Heiress is better, but it was (by all accounts I've read) a flop and seemed a much less "populist" choice than King's Men . I agree that 1949 was kind of an off(ish) year, I think the two REAL best pictures of that year were White Heat and Gun Crazy with Gun Crazy getting the edge- it's 50 times more relevant than King's Men to this day.

 

But if they had even been nominated, people would likely have flipped the hell out.

 

In retrospect, the only Best Actor nominee who really derserved to even be there was Kirk Douglas, John Wayne (who was actually offered Crawford's role in King's Men and turned it down) should have got the nomination for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon and Cagney should have been there for White Heat.

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Oh yes if White Heat had been nominated that would have been an excellent choice. I don't think the Academy really went for gangster films until the Godfather though in the 1970's. The Set-up was also a great film from that year.

 

There is also the Third Man but I think that was eligible for the 1950 Oscars not 1949.

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One situation concerning ?All The Kings Men,? that over the years began to take notice was that all the success and notoriety of the film, didn?t equate to helping actor Broderick Crawford have something of a long term distinguished career. His Oscar win didn?t bring him enough luck to stay viable or even popular in the eyes of the motion picture industry. In less than four years, Crawford had to settle on supporting roles in numerous major movies and eventually drifted over to television, where it was there he managed to have a reasonably speaking solvent career. I use to hear stories of his disillusioned nature as to where he ended up and a bitterness overtook him for the rest of his life. It seems that during his lifetime, there were rumblings by critics and film historians alike that Crawford was just a ?one shot deal,? unlike what happened to wonderful Ernest Borgnine and the unexpected luck his Oscar win for ?Marty? in 1955 brought him. I?ve always compared the two actors in that Ernie Borgnine, who had won the academy award, almost surprisingly for most, turned out not to be in any form or shape a quick flash to achieving the highest recognition for any actor in motion pictures. Ernie would in the years following his Oscar win, able to appear in some highly respected films. On the other hand, Crawford had too few alternatives to consider and while he did manage to keep his career going, he would never again be accepted so seriously. Towards the end of his life, it was both sentimental, as well as amusing to see him make a mockery of himself, when he appeared on ?Saturday Night Live? as the character he would become so identified with from his television series ?Highway Patrol.? Actor/comedian Dan Aykroyd actually rejuvenated some interest in Crawford, when he occasionally recreated the character of Officer ?Dan Mathews? on the late night comedy show. The pairing of Aykroyd and Crawford on ?Saturday Night Live? would be one of the most watched and remembered of the series. One has to wonder if this is where Crawford would have wanted to end up.

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After ?All the King?s Men?, Crawford had such a disgusting on-screen personality, which I think he played in just about every movie after 1949, such as in ?Born Yesterday?, ?The Mob?, ?The Fastest Gun Alive?, and other films. Even as the highway patrol chief, he was a gruff and rude character, the type of cop who would probably beat someone up for running a stop sign.

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> {quote:title=MovieProfessor wrote:}{quote} Crawford was just a "one shot deal" unlike what happened to wonderful Ernest Borgnine... Ernie Borgnine...turned out not to be in any form or shape a quick flash... Ernie would in the years following his Oscar win, able to appear in some highly respected films

 

Um...such "highly respected films" as The Devil's Rain ; The Poseidon Adventure (which isn't completely awful, although he certainly is); Willard ; Merlin's Shop of Mistical Wonders ; The Oscar ; The Legend of Lylah Clare (he's especially bad in that one)...(I could go on.)

 

Borgnine was lucky as hell that he was cast in Dirty Dozen and The Wild Bunch period, and he played virtually the same character in both. He's Brod Crawford 2.0- with a little more emotive ability, that's about it. (In my book at least.) He's a great "type" but far from a great actor.

 

Really, watch the last chapter of The Devil's Rain on youtube and tell me Borgnine's a great actor.

 

I don't remember the SNL bit involving Crawford and Ackroyd you're talking about at all and the first coupla' seasons are the only ones of that show that I find funny and remember,

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Feb 24, 2011 12:10 PM

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I like ALL THE KING'S MEN better than most of you. Good story, straightforward direction, and I even like Broderick Crawford. Not an Oscar-worthy performance, but preferable to, say, Charlton Heston in BEN-HUR. For the classic era, films based on prestigious novels and plays had a leg up for Oscar consideration.

 

Yes, it's clearly set in Anywhere Mostly Rural USA. The filmmakers decided not to make it explicitly Southern. Crawford seems like an urban tough guy, but he has the force that Willie Stark has to have. Crawford does tone down the bluster in his scenes with John Ireland; Willie is somewhat intimated by the intellectual from a good family.

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I guess it matters how egregious the anachorism is and how much leeway a viewer

wants to give the mistake. Hollywood gets a little break because it's a given there's

some fakery somewhere. Not many people will probably notice that the geography

for Memphis is off in The Reivers, so it doesn't matter too much to the overall

effect of the picture. It's like mistakes I've read about concerning films that take place

in London. The character turns into a street that in actual geography is miles away from

the street he was walking on. A London taxi driver might notice it, but for the general

audience it doesn't matter.

 

The Little Foxes is a good example of a movie that is clearly set in the south, but it

doesn't hit you over the head with obvious southern stereotypes. But wasn't there an

old black family retainer in that film too? It's not a necessary condition, but it often

goes with the territory, like the one sadistic prison guard in a "big house" flick.

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> JonnyGeetar You wrote. . .

> Um...such "highly respected films" as The Devil's Rain ; The Poseidon Adventure (which isn't completely awful, although he certainly is); Willard ; Merlin's Shop of Mistical Wonders ; The Oscar ; The Legend of Lylah Clare (he's especially bad in that one)...(I could go on.)

 

Comon' now, trust me on this one. In the case of Ernie, the good out number the bad! You may not like him as an actor, but when compared to Crawford, its no contest and Ernie wins, "hands down!"

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

> 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.

>

 

You're probably right--if it had been set in the South, peoplein the rest of the country would have been like, "Man, those Southerners...you know what they're all like...what do you expect?" The message wouldn't have been taken nearly so seriously.

 

But I do remember getting a "Southern" vibe from this movie.

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

> 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*.

 

I'd say that was his main reason, to make it a story that could occur anywhere people support demagogues. Also, I'm sure they wanted to distance it, at least just a bit, from the connection to Huey Long, just as *Citizen Kane* didn't overtly admit to being about Hearst.

 

Although he didn't have that broad a range, Crawford could be an excellent actor, in the right part. And this was definitely the right part. I think it's a powerful, well-acted film.

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

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

> > 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*.

 

I think you are right.

 

?Flamingo Road? (1949) was about rural-state political corruption, and it was based on a novel that took place in the South, but the film wasn?t specific about where the events took place.

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As I said in the Great Gatsby thread, ATKM takes the novel and puts it in a film noir format.

 

As for "Southern-ness", I can say this as a lifelong resident of Dixie. The Southern aspects were deliberately obscured for political reasons. Huey's brother Earl Long (see Blaze) was still very much alive in 1949, and an extremely powerful figure. Add to that, you have a story dealing with political corruption, and this at a time when Chicago would ban films that claimed there were gangster in that city. The Street With No Name was shot on location in NYC, but since it dealt with a crooked official the locale was changed to "Central City" or something like that.

 

At one point Ireland says, "About as much chance as Abe Lincolin in the cradle of the confederacy". implying they are not in the South. It's one of those movies where they're not in the South, but they are. It's another example of Hollywood symbolism, like all those movies about immigrant Italian families that are really about Jews.

 

My biggest problem with the film ATKM is Crawford. He's a bull in a china shop. Huey Long was no screaming ****. He was a gladhanding backslapper who could sell ice to Eskimos. Crawford completely miss this aspect of Long.

 

I would like to have seen Cagney in the role. Forget the Southern accent -- Cagney had the charm as well as the menace. His take on Long, A Lion Is In The Streets, was unfortunately a mediocre movie and the Long character was made into an outright villain. Perhaps if he'd played Willie Stark the character would have been more evenly shaded.

 

I also think Spencer Tracy might have done well. The Ford-Tracy Last Hurrah is an interesting version of a Longish character (if heavily romanticiized from the much more cynical novel).

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When I was very young, I was taken to see *The Phenix City Story*, which took place in Alabama. I'm afraid that, seeing that film about corruption and depravity in an Alabama town colored my view of the South for a long time. It was very conspicuously set in the South, where the true story it was based on took place -- totally "other" to this Manhattan NYC boy -- and though it had the effect on me of a good horror film, I felt, "It can't happen here (in NYC)." Of course it could have happened anywhere. So there is something to be said for universalizing a good story.

 

Regarding *All the King's Men*, although the book actually hangs its plot loosely on Huey Long, it is a monumental and transcendant novel.

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

> My biggest problem with the film ATKM is Crawford. He's a bull in a china shop. Huey Long was no screaming ****. He was a gladhanding backslapper who could sell ice to Eskimos. Crawford completely miss this aspect of Long.

>

 

I don't think that's Crawford's fault. That is the way the part is written, and what the director wanted. They wanted hick, not slick, and bully, not gladhander.

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

>>

> I would like to have seen Cagney in the role. Forget the Southern accent -- Cagney had the charm as well as the menace. His take on Long, A Lion Is In The Streets, was unfortunately a mediocre movie and the Long character was made into an outright villain. Perhaps if he'd played Willie Stark the character would have been more evenly shaded.

>

> I also think Spencer Tracy might have done well. The Ford-Tracy Last Hurrah is an interesting version of a Longish character (if heavily romanticiized from the much more cynical novel).

 

 

 

I've never really thought a lot about this film (not one of my faves) but I think you;re right about Cagney. He'd have been impressive in the role. Tracy might have pulled it off too, if he called on his early gangster roles to recapture the edge. He managed it for the movie State of the Union, for a while he seemed like the corrupt politician he was supposed to have become, but then he did a 180 and became Mr All American Spencer Tracy again. I know the script called for it, but I thought it was too abrupt--he's been stomping on his wife's feelings for months and then suddenly in the final 5 minutes of the movie, he changes? Just because she finally tells him what she thinks, then goes on the air to support him anyway?

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*HAS ANYONE MENTIONED THE 2006 REMAKE? I THINK IT'S FAR SUPERIOR A FILM THEN THE ORIGINAL*. There's been this debate on whether or not the film should be considered a remake. While not a block-buster dramatic success, the 2006 version does stay somewhat faithful to the novel. Certainly, Sean Penn in the title role of Willie Stark does give the character a certain amount of credibility that Crawford seemed to lack along the lines of intensity and a ferocious, predatory attitude. The general reviews on the film were mixed. The final box-office results were a huge failure, making the movie one of the biggest disappointments of the year, despite the stellar cast and good, authentic production values. Interestingly, the film's first public screening was at Tulane University in New Orleans. After all, this was Huey Long's home turf.

 

Edited by: MovieProfessor on Feb 27, 2011 9:04 PM

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

> *HAS ANYONE MENTIONED THE 2006 REMAKE? I THINK IT'S FAR SUPERIOR A FILM THEN THE ORIGINAL*. There's been this debate on whether or not the film should be considered a remake. While not a block-buster dramatic success, the 2006 version does stay somewhat *fateful* to the novel.

 

Sorry for the nitpick, but I believe you mean "faithful," not "fateful."

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