All the King's Men (2006 film)
All the King's Men is a 2006 American political drama film based on the 1946 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel of the same name by Robert Penn Warren. All the King's Men had previously been adapted into a Best Picture–winning film by writer-director Robert Rossen in 1949. It was directed by Steven Zaillian, who also produced and scripted. The film is about the life of Willie Stark (played by Sean Penn), a fictional character resembling Louisiana governor Huey Long, in office 1928 through 1932. He was elected as a U.S. Senator and assassinated in 1935. The film co-stars Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Anthony Hopkins, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson and Jackie Earle Haley.
|All the King's Men|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven Zaillian|
|Produced by||Ken Lemberger |
|Written by||Steven Zaillian|
|Based on||All the King's Men|
by Robert Penn Warren
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||Wayne Wahrman|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Box office||$9.5 million|
Jack Burden, a Louisiana news reporter, takes a personal interest in Willie Stark, an idealistic small-town lawyer and parish treasurer. Circumstances develop that result in Tiny Duffy, a local political leader Burden knows, urging Stark to run for governor. Burden's upbringing makes him familiar with the undercurrent of politics – he was raised by his loving godfather Judge Irwin, a former state attorney general, while his good friend, Dr. Adam Stanton, and his sister Anne Stanton—also Burden's former lover—are the children of a former governor. Burden therefore decides to take Duffy's advice and travels as a reporter on Stark's campaign for governor.
The politically astute Burden soon deduces, and Duffy strategist (and Stark mistress) Sadie Burke confirms, that Duffy is using Stark to split his party's vote and thus allow the opposing party to win. They tell Stark, who begins to give speeches in a straightforward manner to appeal to the public, in defiance of the advice given to him by Duffy. His vigorous strategy attacks the corruption of the existing players and promises schools and roads for his “fellow ignorant hicks”, resulting in Stark winning the election. He manages Duffy by making him his lieutenant governor. Stark recruits Burden to work for him as an adviser.
Stark proves to be a very persuasive governor, delivering on many of his new projects. Irwin disapproves of Stark and publicly supports an investigation of possible graft in the new spending. Burden points out that graft is the elite's word for what the previous politicians had always done, while Stark openly tells his crowds that his “crooks, unlike theirs, are itty bitty” compared to the elite's. Stark convinces Stanton to head a new public hospital while he begins having an affair with Anne, provoking Burke's jealousy and Burden's disappointment.
Irwin continues criticizing Stark as political controversies begin to unfold. Stark demands that Burden seek information on the judge to be used against him. Jack insists that there is no such information, but eventually discovers evidence of a bribe that Irwin used to get his appointment many years prior, leading an opponent to commit suicide. Following this revelation, Irwin himself commits suicide. Burden's mother then tells him that Irwin treated him with such love because he was his biological father, which causes a great amount of guilt for Burden.
Stark utilizes many methods of corruption to consolidate his power, including patronage and intimidation. Adam is told that Stark is using the hospital project to rob the state and is framing him in the process. Burden and Anne both assure Adam that this is false. Adam also becomes enraged when he learns of Stark's affair with his sister. Adam waits at the state capitol and assassinates Stark, only to be immediately killed by the governor's bodyguard. It is later revealed that Adam was influenced by Duffy and Burke to murder Stark, allowing Duffy to succeed Stark as governor.
- Sean Penn as Willie Stark
- Jude Law as Jack Burden
- Joshua Davis as young Jack
- Kate Winslet as Anne Stanton
- Carrie Christmann as young Anne
- Anthony Hopkins as Judge Irwin
- James Gandolfini as Tiny Duffy
- Patricia Clarkson as Sadie Burke
- Mark Ruffalo as Adam Stanton
- Montgomery John as young Adam
- Kathy Baker as Rachel Burden
- Jackie Earle Haley as Roderick "Sugar Boy" Ellis
- Talia Balsam as Lucy Stark
- Travis Champagne as Tom Stark
- Frederic Forrest as Donald Stark
- Kevin Dunn as Alex Fauntleroy
- Tom McCarthy as Mr. Henley
- Glenn Morshower as Commissioner Sherman
- Jay Patterson as Senator Kruczemark
- Michael Cavanaugh as Mr. Payton
- Caroline Lagerfelt as Mrs. Payton
- Eileen Ryan as Lily Littlepaugh
- Gary Grubbs as Sheriff Boyle
Differences between the book and Zallian's screenplayEdit
- The film (with the exception of flashbacks) is set during the early 1950s. The book and the original film are set during the Great Depression, the period of Huey Long's ascendancy.
- Jack's doctoral research storyline is not in the film. His research was about Cass Mastern, an ancestor who lived in the Antebellum South and fought in the American Civil War. The book devotes an extensive passage to the story of Mastern and the way in which he unwittingly and drastically influences the lives of others, which many critics have argued serves as the novel's moral center. Jack walks away from his study of Mastern because he is unwilling to accept the way in which people's actions influence the fates of others.
- The storyline of the book involving Tom Stark is removed. He is seen only a few times in the film. In the book Tom impregnates a girl, which threatens his father with a scandal.
- The film ends a few minutes after Willie Stark's assassination, explaining little (through newspaper headlines) about what takes place after the event. In the book, Jack Burden explains many things that take place after the assassination, which includes son Tom's death.
The film garnered strong Oscar "buzz" before its initial opening. Entertainment Weekly in its August 18, 2006 issue included All the King's Men in its Oscar Preview, and said the film was most likely to win an Oscar.
The world premiere was held at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2006, where the film was first screened to the press. A special screening was held at the Tulane University in New Orleans on September 16, 2006.
In spite of its high-profile cast, direction and production team, the film was a massive failure, both with critics and at the box office. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 12%, based on 156 reviews with the website's consensus stating "With a scenery-chewing performance from Sean Penn, an absence of political insight, and an overall lack of narrative cohesiveness, these Men give Oscar bait a bad name."
A. O. Scott of The New York Times expressed disappointment with the film: "Nothing in the picture works. It is both overwrought and tedious, its complicated narrative bogging down in lyrical voiceover, long flashbacks and endless expository conversations between people speaking radically incompatible accents." Michael Medved gave All the King's Men two stars (out of four) calling it "depressing and disappointing", a "stodgy melodrama" and a "pointless, pretentious, plodding period-piece".
Some reviews were positive. Richard Schickel of Time Magazine liked the movie, arguing that "it's much more faithful to the tone of the novel" than the original. Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times) praised the film's "undeniable moral seriousness" and the actors' "exceptional ensemble work." He argued that Zaillian's script and direction "expertly extracted the core of this greatest of American political novels, a work that is both of its time and outside it."
The film was featured in Nathan Rabin's ongoing feature for The Onion's A.V. Club, "My Year of Flops". Of three categories (failure, fiasco, or secret success), he labeled All the King's Men as a failure and said of the film: "Zaillian’s dud manages the formidable feat of being at once histrionic and agonizingly dull, hysterically over-the-top yet strangely lifeless."
Zaillian was stunned by the poor critical and box-office results of this film, which opened with only $3.8 million and barely made $7.2 million at the end of its run in US theaters. Another new wide release from the same weekend, Jackass Number Two, made $28.1 million. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Zaillian said that the film's poor performance was "like getting hit by a truck. ... I don't know what to make of it.... We're all a bit shellshocked. I feel like Huey Long must have felt -- you try to do good and they shoot you for it."
|All the King's Men|
|Film score by|
|Released||September 27, 2007|
|Producer||Simon Rhodes and James Horner|
|James Horner chronology|
|Movie Music UK|
- "Main Title" – 4:30
- "Time Brings All Things to Light" – 1:45
- "Give Me the Hammer and I'll NAIL 'EM UP!" – 5:59
- "Bring Down the Lion and the Rest of the Jungle Will Quake in Fear" – 3:34
- "Conjuring the 'Hick' Vote" – 3:14
- "Anne's Memories" – 2:47
- "Adam's World" – 3:43
- "Jack's Childhood" – 2:22
- "The Rise to Power" – 3:17
- "Love's Betrayal" – 2:54
- "Only Faded Pictures" – 2:49
- "As We Were Children Once" – 2:49
- "Verdict and Punishment" – 6:00
- "All Our Lives Collide" – 3:23
- "Time Brings All Things to Light... I Trust It So" – 7:36
- Rotten Tomatoes. "American reviews of 'All the King's Men'". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
- "2006 TIFF Archive". Archived from the original on 2007-02-17.
- A.O. Scott (2006-09-22). "Southern Fried Demagogue and His Lurid Downfall". NY Times. Retrieved 2006-12-10.
- Michael Medved. "All The King's Men". MichaelMedved.com. Archived from the original on 2006-10-22. Retrieved 2006-12-10.
- Richard Schickel (2006-09-10). "He Had a Great Fall". Time. Retrieved 2006-12-10.
- Kenneth Turan (2006-09-22). "'All the King's Men'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2007-01-02. Retrieved 2006-12-10.
- Nathan Rabin (2007-02-15). "My Year Of Flops: CaseFile #7: All The King's Men". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
- L.A. Times (2006-10-03). "Extract of the interview with the L.A. Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2006-12-30.