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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You're a hick!"
Dismissed by the critics as portentous and vague, this remake of All The Kings Men has the makings of a great film and features another incredible performance by Sean Penn. Even if all the parts don't necessarily make a great whole, the film is still totally watchable.

Sean Penn is Willie Stark, the Southern country boy who wants to be governor, who wears his...
Published on 21 Dec 2006

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Question: Does The End Justify the Means?
3.5 stars

Willie Stark: Remember, it is not I who have won, but you. Your will is my strength, and your need is my justice, and I shall live in your right and your will. And if any man tries to stop me from fulfilling that right and that will, I'll break him. I'll break him with my bare hands, for I have the strength of many." IMDB

Willie Stark is...
Published on 17 Mar 2007 by prisrob


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You're a hick!", 21 Dec 2006
Dismissed by the critics as portentous and vague, this remake of All The Kings Men has the makings of a great film and features another incredible performance by Sean Penn. Even if all the parts don't necessarily make a great whole, the film is still totally watchable.

Sean Penn is Willie Stark, the Southern country boy who wants to be governor, who wears his hair cropped close at the sides and standing up straight on top. Willie begins his career as a lawyer and local official, and, as he sizes people up, he gauging weakness and strengths.

Quietly malevolent, Penn steadily builds his performance so that Stark - although his path is paved with good intentions - turns into a screaming and symbol of the oppressed, repelling evil capitalists and corrupt politicians and promising to build schools, roads, and bridges.

Attacks on him by other politicians are, he says, attacks on the people. In a montage of speeches, we see the populist turn into a demagogue. Watching his rise to power is witnessed through Jack Burden (Jude Law), an outcast from a wealthy family who works as a newspaperman.

Jack joins up with Willie and becomes his confidant and his hatchet man and the center of the movie is the bond between two utterly different men. Jack is represents an offshoot of the old world moneyed elite and Willie is the working class rebel made good.

Director by Steven Zaillian steadily moves the story between the past and the present as he introduces all the supporting players, who in various ways influence Willie's rise to the governorship. There's Jack's ineffably cultivated childhood friends Anne (Kate Winslet) and Adam Stanton (Mark Ruffalo), Anthony Hopkins, as a crotchety old judge whose actions threaten to bring Willie down, and James Gandolfini and Patricia Clarkson, as astute political operatives who stage-manage political Willie's campaign.

There's no doubt that All The King's Men is gorgeously fashioned and it features some great acting from its ensemble cast. Yes - the movie has problems, often coming across as a little too overproduced, with James Horner's music swelling and too overbearing throughout. And the tone of the film is often too self-important for its own good.

Zaillian does a good job, however, of showing how politics and power can corrupt. Stark becomes dishonest and crooked, but personal gain is not his goal. You admire him for wanting to help the people while at the same time you despise him for his underhanded methods and the way he tries to hold onto power at whatever cost.

Penn's performance is one of the best of his career. There is hardly a false step from beginning to end. He really does get to the heart of Stark's character, demonstrating how good people can often be blindsided by power and money, and transformed by trying to hold fast to what they believe to be right and just causes. Mike Leonard December 06.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Question: Does The End Justify the Means?, 17 Mar 2007
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
3.5 stars

Willie Stark: Remember, it is not I who have won, but you. Your will is my strength, and your need is my justice, and I shall live in your right and your will. And if any man tries to stop me from fulfilling that right and that will, I'll break him. I'll break him with my bare hands, for I have the strength of many." IMDB

Willie Stark is the quintessential politician. He started out an honest man and then little by little the urge to win big takes over. The first little lie 'won't hurt them', and downhill from there. Robert Penn Warren's, Pulitizer Prize novel, by the same name 'All The King's Men' was inspired by the infamous Huey Long, Governor and Senator of Lousiana. But, then again, this movie could be about any politician. The making and breaking of a politician comes full fore. Robert Penn Warren observed firsthand, Huey Long, when he took a teaching job at Louisiana State University in 1934. He found the measure of the man.

Sean Penn as Willie Stark is a powerful take of the man. Somehow, something is missing, however, the full meaning of the man is not shown but implied. Jude Law as Jack Burden is an understated play but IMO he steals this movie. His character is full of the irony and the bleakness of the future of politics. He portrays the measure of a man caught in the grip of alcochol and finding his way. Anthony Hopkins as Judge Irwin lives up to his image of the world's greatest living actor. Seemingly honest and upright, but the misery is found once you dig deeply enough. Kate Winslet's characater, Anne Stanton, is so underplayed she could have sent in a stand in. Mark Ruffalo as Adam Stanton is well done. Patricia Clarkson as Sadie Burke plays the perfect foil to Willie Stark, but her character is not on screen enough to matter. James Gandolfini as Tiny Duffy, is a character that adds not much to this movie. We recognize him from 'The Sopranos' and that is his due.

"Perhaps the most remarkable thing about "All the King's Men" is how contemporary so many of its issues seem. Not only the classic question of means and ends, the validity of Stark's insistence that "good can always be made from bad," but also the question of who if anyone in American life speaks for the poor and dispossessed, a question that was last raised, ironically, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.When Penn's Stark cries out to his constituency, "Your will is my strength, your need is my justice," he is striking a chord that may yet be heard again."

Kenneth Turan

This movie kept my attention because of Jude Law's performance and the cinematogrophy. The scenery of Lousiana and New Orleans in particular. Beautiful in both aspects. A movie that speaks to us of our own political process. The movie follows Robert Penn Warren's novel closely and that mnay have been the downfall. Something is missing that would have made this move great. It is too subtle, too slow, too downplayed. I would, however, recommend this movie for the feel of the South, and the play of politics. Recommended. prisrob 3-17-07
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An above average film, 12 April 2009
By 
J. I. De Beresford "safemouse" (Farnham) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: All The King's Men [DVD] (DVD)
I tend to raise the bar quite high in life and people find me too critical so imagine my surprise when I found a film I thought better than the general populace seem to. I must admit, I had preconceptions about the film being weak due to knowing it didn't have a high profile and therefore must have been a flop. I also thought the trailer was good and yet somehow simple and I like subtlety in my films. So this time the bar was set low and I was pleasantly rewarded by what I saw. I enjoyed it from start to finish.
First of all, the script is full of rich, poetic prose that most scripts aren't. It made me want to read the book. Second, Louisiana looks beautiful and so do the sets. It made me want to visit the place. Third, I didn't want the film to end. It made me want to watch the extras. I'm so glad that an epilogue was included. There are flaws but they didn't spoil the film for me. Those flaws are basically improbabilities and unexplained things and there's so much going on that is only hinted at it's like chunks of the story we'd like to see are missing (the senator's wife is all but brushed out of the film, we jump forward in time alot etc.) and people seem to behave in ways that they wouldn't in real life but welcome to the world of film where years have to be absurdly compressed into a couple of hours or less.
I think Sean Penn's performance is excellent, as usual, and though Jude Law has made too many films too quickly I think he's well suited to this. Anthony Hopkins doesn't excel himself but even Hopkins on autopilot is high quality. A good film.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Writer of the South's Novel's Transformation into Two Very Fine Motion Pictures Having Gov. Huey Long as Their Subject, 9 Sep 2014
By 
Gerald Parker "Gerald Parker" (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: All The King's Men [DVD] (DVD)
Having watched two different cinematic accounts of All the King's Men, the common assessment that the 1949 film, with Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 13052 being the edition viewed), is a greater movie than the 2006 film starring Sean Penn in the same role (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment16953-LIT being the "Special Edition" watched) seems rather debatable. That is not because Sean Penn is better than Broderick Crawford in that role; Penn is, indeed excessively, rather clownishly over-the-top, but so, to only a little lesser degree (but more believably) Crawford is also. Penn's faked Southern accent, however, is pretty dreadful, too, and is grossly exaggerated. Newsreels of the time convey what Long really was like, in looks and in public behaviour, and it is Crawford who most approximates the Huey Long of history.

This review is meant to apply to both motion pictures as released on DVD, Blu-Ray, or VHS.

The other actors in the 2006 film may not quite sound like native-born Southerners, either; however, not going so far to fake the regional accent, they irritate less than Sean Penn does. (Having a whole side of the family from Southern roots, that kind of linguistic fakery always sets this viewer's teeth gritting and on edge!)

The cast of the film, aside from Sean Penn, is superb. Jude Law's portrayal of Jack Burden is especially poignant, and, in its quiet way, very effective and subtle. John Ireland, a Canadian-born actor, is effective in the role of Jack Burden, but Law brings just that much more subtlety and personal appeal to the part, although Law does not have the reservations, and hence more intensely felt and expressed ambiguities, about supporting and working with Willie Stark, written more strongly into the 1949 film's very script, that Ireland portrays.

Actually, for the history behind the story, Huey Long, the real life politician that Stark's character represents, could be quite the buffoon, too, as well as quite ruthless; one had to take the progressive good along with the dictatorial bad back then in supporting Huey Long Huey Long, who was corrupt, yes, but who had a real heart for the people of Louisiana, unlike the lying, greedy graft-hogs feeding fiscally at the public trough in government in our own times, the early decades of the 21st century, at the national level (and in numerous states) in the U. S. of A. under Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama, in the Dominion of Canada under Harper, and among the rest of the neo-con corrupted English-speaking world under their respective leaders (and among the various continental nations of the European Union and their ruling elite).

The 2006 motion picture is considerably much more atmospheric and artistic, as a whole, than the earlier movie. The 1949 film seems too didactic and overly controlled, the acting and direction of all of its cast (not merely singling out Broderick Crawford) is excessively overdrawn and too obvious. That 1949 movie is the well-made-film "to a tee", but it suffers comparison with the 2006 motion picture partly from that very fact.

Both cinematic renderings of southerner Robert Penn Warren's novel are the kind of dramatic films about the South that do not heap the kind of contempt, derision, or condescension on the region unlike so the motion pictures of so many of Hollywood's hostile Yankee interlopers. It is well worth it to see both of the films based upon this story and on Louisiana's fascinating political lore. The 1949 movie, set in the 1930s (like Huey Long's career and Warren's novel itself) was an Academy Award winner and has remained a famous classic of American cinema.

A more incidental advantage of the 1949 film is that Broderick Crawford looks rather a lot like Huey Long himself; certainly Crawford was of very much the same physical "type" as Long. The 2006 film, apart from Sean Penn's buffoonery and grotesquely exaggerated accent (and lack of physical resemblance to Huey Long), for its part, is very evocative of the later period (1950s) in which it is set.

Among the several welcome bonus features of the DVD edition cited of the 2006 film are scenes deleted from the movie. Watch them! There is much in the dialogue that amplifies and clarifies motives of what Willie Stark and others do. The final scene, apart from being in b&w and in sepia (highlighting the redness of blood, in colour, that flows in such a context), does not differ much from the film's depiction of the assassination, but it extends the end to the funerals and a conversation that Jack Burden has with Sugar, Willie's chief bodyguard, which also reveals a key element in what led to the governor's murder and to what propelled Adam Stanton's to carry it out.

Many consider these two films to be veritable monuments of Hollywood excellence. Maybe so, maybe not---. Be sure to view both of them to judge for oneself!
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3.0 out of 5 stars All the Best Intentions do not a film make, 31 Mar 2014
This review is from: All The King's Men [DVD] (DVD)
Not a remake of the 1949 film, but a more faithful adaptation of Robert Warren Penn's iconic novel, Steve Zaillian's (Schindler's List, Searching For Bobby Fischer, The Interpreter) take tells the story of politician Willie Stark (Sean Penn). Set in 50s Louisiana, the film documents Stark's humble beginnings, rise to power as governor, and final downfall, from the perspective of journalist Jack Burden (Jude Law), who gets drawn into Stark's ever murkier world.

Crucified by critics on release, I found this to be a very 'split' film. The good first: It's photographed and scored beautifully, and despite accents, the all-star cast are predictably effective, with Penn delivering the needed bombast and passion of the corrupted governor. Law is good too as a disillusioned journalist fighting his own demons, especially an old flame and her brother, played by Winslet and Ruffalo respectively, also solid. We even get Hopkins and the late Gandolfini in supporting roles as a powerful judge and Stark's first ally, though both don't get much to do and feel more like novelties.

Now, its narrative is where things get really hazy: Drifting between political corruption with Stark, and Burden's own personal story of manipulation and loss, the shift is not handled very smoothly at all. The story seems meandering and unfocused most of the time, with Burden's tale taking a little more precedence over Stark's. Not only does this cut away from some great potential allegory and parallels with modern politics, but it feels like the shades of grey are where Zaillian should be most at home. In 'Schindler's List', he handled that extremely well, but here, once he gets into office, he pretty much right away becomes a two faced weasel, which regardless of accuracy to the novel, doesn't make for terribly dramatic or smooth screen storytelling.

As for Burden's story in and of itself, it's okay, but again, it feels like its detracting from where the story should be focused on. Yes, there is some parallel between how both men let down people, and they are tied together because they factor into Stark's political schemes, but it just drags and, again, doesn't feel like that's where the heart of this story should be. What works in a book doesn't always translate to screen, and this type of sprawling, laid-back narrative feels better consumed over the course of chapters.

In the end, the film isn't boring or lazy, and I don't think it's the abomination the critics branded it as, but it just feels like Zaillian is juggling too many things. Had he focused the story on Stark and really gone into examining the backstabbing nature of politics, we could've gotten something, while not incredibly original, much more effective and gripping. As it is, it just amounts to a whole bunch of 'okay', and nothing more.
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3.0 out of 5 stars all the king's men, 7 Feb 2014
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This review is from: All The King's Men [DVD] (DVD)
Difficult for me to judge this film because I didn't like the book or the story. Eventhough I didn't enjoy the film, I can say that the cast is good and the film well performed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous., 24 Sep 2007
By 
Jason Mills "jason10801" (Accrington, UK) - See all my reviews
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"All The King's Men" is a political thriller that rises far above its
machinations. At its heart is a tale of doomed love, the corrosive
effect of time, and ultimately tragedy. It's lyrical and powerful, with
great performances all round and brilliant direction.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hopeless, 27 Jan 2013
This review is from: All The King's Men [DVD] (DVD)
This could be the best film ever made....i don't know, we gave up watching after 10 minutes because we couldn't understand a word that was spoken, do these people speak a new language?.It very much reminds me of, i think ,Churchill, when he said" Two countries separated by the same language" Undecipherable....i can't see the point in making a film that a lot of the audience cannot understand! You might as well have put in subtitles. Do not buy this film unless you can speak fluent GIBBERISH!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 Nov 2014
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It's ok!
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not A Film That I Would Recommend, 8 Oct 2007
By 
Firstly I will give the positives :

1: Excellent photography
2: Good performance from Jude Law

The negatives :

1: Sean Penn (usually an actor I like) performance made no sense and I needed subtitles at times to understand what was being said.

2: The film seemed overlong yet the story seemed to make no sense and was rushed.

3: Why Stark went from naive idealist to morally corrupt politician was not explained and seemed to happen overnight

Unfortunately this is not a film that I would recommend - and a disappoint when you consider the excellent cast.
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All The King's Men [DVD]
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