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All the King's Men [1949 film] (1949)
by Robert Rossen (Director/Screenwriter)
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This is the story of working class hero Southern demagogue Willie Stark--rising from the mud of the back country--and his long climb to the top, followed by his longer drop to the bottom. Abetted by newspaper reporter Jack Burden, who becomes his chronicler, Stark's career begins with running for county treasurer and losing. Through law school, private practice, and finally as people's advocate against corruption, he moves up the political ladder. In his 2nd run for governor, Willie vows to give the people new hospitals, schools, roads -- and when he's elected, he delivers. But the more power he gets, the more corrupt he acts, until he's unrecognizable. He chases women, turns his family into photo-op props, and makes Burden his personal character assassin. Do the ends justify the means? Is it power that corrupts, or is it that power allows people to be corrupt? These are the questions that Willie Stark, in the end, cannot answer.
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