1949 – All the King’s Men

This one will not be high on any list of favorites.  I think what made it extra painful was that we decided to watch the trailer for the 2006 version of All the King’s Men, starring Sean Penn, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, and Patricia Clarkson.  It made this 1949 version that much more of a disappointment.  But we are interested in seeing the one with Sean Penn…which might be strikingly similar to his recent Milk (which I have not seen yet).

The film follows a young politician who wants to reform politics in his state (Ohio?).  He works to get his law degree and eventually makes it to a big election.  Over time, he gets sucked into the corruption that he originally sought to right.  His second hand man, who is originally a journalist sent to cover Stark’s (the politician) story, also gets deeply inolved.  Women go back and forth.  I found it confusing.  I especially had a hard time understanding the lingo of the time.  Like reading a Jane Austen novel or a Shakespearean play, you get the gist, but it was written for that time, not for all time.

The film was very interesting in light of the recent election.  I heard on NPR the other day that Obama’s popularity ratings have already dropped a bit since he took office.  Not to say that Obama is necessarily on his way to being corrupt, but it’s interesting to hear about a smalltown man rising to prominent office.  We’re all waiting to see what he does with it.  One other similarity that struck a familiar chord–a quote from a journalistic film within the film:  “Willie Stark: Messiah or Dictator?”  Remember all those pre-election posters, articles, blogs, and cartoons depicting Obama as somesort of messiah and/or dictator?  History repeats itself.

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