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Oscars Challenge #76: All The King's Men (1949) Movie Review

Oxymoron phrases have marked English sentences and given them a different meanings.

If there is an oxymoron that perfectly describes the feeling after watching All The King's Men, it's probably the most realistic fictional story.

The Best Picture winner from the 22nd Academy Awards, All The King's Men, provides what could happen if an aspiring politician gets presented with overwhelming power and intoxicated him.

Plot Summary

Jack Burden, a reporter tasked to write an article about Wille Stark, an aspiring country treasurer who lives in Kanoma City. His campaign is run by honesty and targets corrupt politicians who have dominated the city. Burden meets with Stark and starts writing his inspiring story of courage and honesty. The aspiring politician loses the race because of his competitor's corrupt machinery. He proceeds to study law and gets a law degree. After a structural collapse accident that killed 12 children triggered an investigation, Stark filed a lawsuit against the government and won. He used this as a weapon to build the political momentum that aligned him to run for Governor.

Stark begins his campaign by delivering impassioned speeches that attract a few people. Burden resigned after his company told him not to write positive articles about Stark. He again loses but draws a lot of support from other individuals. Over the next four years, he gains political momentum and funds by making backroom deals. He hires Burden as his campaign manager and persuades his family by telling them his dreamy promises.

Eventually, Willie Stark wins and becomes the new Governor. He starts by engaging in corrupt activities. He dismisses any scandal his administration encounters. The more Willie Stark gets involved in political activities, the more he becomes corrupt.

This film brings in the talents of Broderick Crawford and John Ireland.


All The King's Men is an interesting political drama film that thrives itself in establishing character development. Willie Stark's descent toward corruption and change in demeanor after winning the Governor race is evident throughout the movie. A big hands down to Broderick Crawford for portraying a problematic character, and he does it nicely.

The whole plot of this movie is very relatable, especially if you are into topics regarding politics.

This movie excels in how each scene transition expounds more on the story. The campaign sequence marked by the powerful speech of Willie Stark makes it look like you are looking at the real thing.

It felt dragging initially because nothing was happening until halfway through the movie. The ending felt rushed, I think, but other than that, everything about this film is quite good.

All The King's Men, for me, is a must-watch. It is a necessary movie to understand better what happens to a person once he gets a lot of power, especially if he's a politician.

A very good 4 out of 5 stars.

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