One man's view of theology, sports, politics, and whatever else in life that happens to interest me. A little bit about me.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

TOMS Movies: All the King's Men

For an introduction to this series, click here.

Oct. 5, 2006

I thought I was cynical. This is the most cynical movie about politics I have ever seen.

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For those of you who don't know, "All the King's Men" is the original movie of which the remake is in theaters now. (I know that's confusing. Hollywood hasn't come out with a truly creative movie in a long time. Everything is either remakes or sequels or adaptations, at least that's the way it seems to me.) This movie is very loosely based on the real-life Huey Long, who was governor of Louisiana, later a U.S. Senator, and who nearly challenged FDR in 1936 before he was assassinated (How important do you have to be before your murder becomes an assassination?).

In this movie, a country rabble rouser named Willie Stark makes a name for himself as an incorruptible voice of the people. He becomes popular enough to easily win the campaign for governor of the unspecified state. Unfortunately, he becomes worse than the corrupt politicians he was trying to fight. As he gains power, he hires some of the people who fought against him to do his dirty work. He hides his dirty work with more dirty work: digging up dirt on the people that oppose him. Eventually he is impeached by the legislature, but then he pulls his dirtiest trick of all, busing in thousands of rural supporters to ring the state capital and chant slogans all day and all night until the senate pardons him. Of course, just as he wins, the one man left with any dignity kills him, but I saw that coming about halfway through the movie (Good reviewers aren't supposed to give away the ending, but I'm not Roger Ebert).

According to, the role of Stark was offered to John Wayne, who turned it down, saying, among other things, that the movie "threw acid on the American way of life." I don't think he was too far off. I'm not saying it's a bad movie - it's well-acted and directed. It's just that when most all the characters are terrible people it's hard for me to identify with it.

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