Editor’s Note: Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men is routinely listed in the top five novels in American literature, although it appears to have dropped off the radar screen of the masses in today’s so-called “conservative” TV-driven American culture. It is still available in book stores and worth the read, especially for the middle class and working poor who are often misled by politicians who really do not have their economic interests in mind. It may be “the culture stupid,” but the remake of this movie should be at the top of their list to see before the Nov. 7 election.
Key Quote: “If you don’t vote, you don’t matter.”
by Henry B. Rosenbush
Charismatic, controversial and mendacious best describes the life of Huey P. Long, whose political career included tenures as railroad commissioner, state senator and finally governor of Louisiana (1928-35). His assassination in the State Capitol building on the evening of September 8, 1935 has historically been attributed to Dr. Carl Weiss, although evidence culled in the 1990s suggests that Dr. Weiss was framed. Trained in law, Long’s journey to the gubernatorial mansion was filled with personal corruption, but on the other side, Long brought numerous benefits to his dirt-poor state.
Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer winning novel, All the King’s Men was a scathing examination of Populist Southern Governor Willie Stark’s rise and fall. The novel inspired four films, the 1949 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Actor (Broderick Crawford) and Mercedes McCambridge (Supporting Actress), a 1953 version produced by James Cagney, the 1989 Paul Newman version “Blaze,” a comedic retelling from the point of view of stripper Blaze Starr, the recent 2006 film with Sean Penn, two made for television adaptations, a TV special, an opera and an excellent Ken Burns documentary in 1987.
While the 1949 film remains the best of the lot the most recent version at least was released during the upcoming election season. It’s a shame that this one has slipped quietly away, dropping off the top 50 list last week. Roundly panned by critics (of 134 national reviews it only received 14 positive nods) for myriad reasons; casting numerous Brits in the roles of Southerners, murky subplots, a shaky narrative, well, you get the idea.