Plot: What’s it about?
Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) made his entrance into politics on a small scale, as part of a plan to get the “hicks” into the voting booths. It wasn’t Stark’s idea to take this approach, but his backers insisted and soon enough, Stark confesses the plan to a group of potential voters. This moment of honesty doesn’t harm his chances however and in fact, it seems to help him and the people connect with him, since he respected them enough to tell the truth. Stark dislikes corrupt politicians and strives to make a difference, though he was drunk and a little irritated on the occasion when he turned himself in to the public. The respect from the common people soon spreads to everyone in Stark’s state and before he knows it, he has a position of power and can make a difference, but will that difference be for the better?
Yet another Oscar winner has hit DVD and this time, it’s All the King’s Men, which took home three awards back in 1949. In addition to a Best Actor win for Broderick Crawford and a Best Supporting Actress award for Mercedes McCambridge, this movie also took the top banana, Best Picture. So those of you who track the Oscar winners as they arrive, you can scratch of this one, as Columbia/Tristar has delivered the goods. If you’re a fan of political cinema, then you won’t want to miss this one, as it is one of the finest films in the genre. The screenplay was based on Robert Penn Warren’s novel and is very well written, as it allows enough time to develop the needed elements, but never drags too much. The real standout element here however, is the performance of Broderick Crawford, who really shines in this role. Crawford carries the film and though he is surrounded by talented costars, he steals this one from start to finish. In the end, this is an excellent picture and though Columbia/Tristar has done little to enhance this release, the strength of the movie is enough to recommend the disc.
I think Roderick Crawford’s performance here is an example of true excellence and as I mentioned, he won a most deserved Best Actor Oscar for his efforts. I think some performers latch onto certain roles well and for Crawford, he seems to relish this character and his antics, especially the more underhanded ones. A well written villain can be fodder for a superb performance and Crawford gets such a role here, which he takes full advantage of. I haven’t seen as many of Crawford’s films as I would like, but viewing this movie once again has made me want to seek them out, which I am sure I will. You can also see Crawford in such films as Born Yesterday, Terror in the Wax Museum, Red Tomahawk, The Last Posse, and Sealed Verdict. The cast also includes Mercedes McCambridge (Touch of Evil, Cimarron), John Ireland (Satan’s Cheerleaders, The Mad Butcher), Anne Seymour (Field of Dreams, Trancers), and John Derek (The Ten Commandments, Rogues of Sherwood Forest).
Video: How does it look?
All the King’s Men is presented in a full frame transfer, which preserves the film’s intended aspect ratio. As expected, the print looks worn and shows damage at times, but this is cleaner than I’ve ever seen the film look. I do wish some digital restoration was used to clean up some of the debris, but I think this movie looks better than most from this time period. The contrast is even handed and never falters much, which is crucial for a black & white picture, such as this one. As I said, this transfer is a little dated at times, but I think fans will be pleased in the end.
Audio: How does it sound?
Not a whole lot to discuss on this end, as the included mono is just what you’d expect, simple and a little dated at times. I didn’t hear much as far as hiss or distortion, but a few small instances were present, though nothing to be concerned about. The sound effects come across as well as a mono option from 1949 can allow, which means adequate, though a little limited and even a tad harsh at times. The dialogue is clean and easy to understand however, which allows me to even off the score somewhat. I would have liked a cleaned up option, but this one isn’t bad by any means, just a little rough around the edges. This disc also includes audio options in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, as well as subtitles in English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.