All the King's Men (1949)

  • Review Date: September 21, 2006
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Details the rise and fall of a Southern politician.
  • Review Date: September 21, 2006
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Violence

Stark and his assailant shot and killed

Sex

Stark has affairs with Anne and Sadie among others

Language

None

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this classic political corruption drama has less iffy content than the 2006 remake, but it's still not particularly likely to interest kids. The main character, Stark, has affairs and blackmails a judge; the movie also deals with class issues. Characters drink, and two are assassinated (not very graphic).

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

ALL THE KING'S MEN is the story of the rise and fall of a Southern politician, based on the career of Louisiana's Huey Long. Here, the politician is named Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford), and the Southern state where it takes place is never named. Stark is a poor but honest lawyer in a small town who crusades against a corrupt political machine. Stark runs for governor, promising to tax the rich to pay for better services for the poor. He wins, and spends generously on new highways, schools, hospitals, and bridges. But this is accomplished through corruption and graft. At first, he insists it is the only way to accomplish what he has dreamed of for the state. But he becomes caught up in the power of the position, and soon he becomes power hungry and ruthless.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Assigned to cover Stark's campaign, journalist Jack Burden asks his editor, "What's so special about him?" "They say he's an honest man," is the reply, and this puts him in the "man bites dog" category of newsworthiness. And he is an honest man, at first, motivated to study law and to run for office out of a genuine desire to fight corruption and abuse of power. But, as Lord Acton famously said, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." In allowing himself to exploit the same mechanisms that he once protested, in a vain effort to use the ends to justify the means, Willie makes himself politically and spiritually vulnerable, and he does not have a trusted advisor or a moral foundation to keep him from spinning out of control.

It is interesting to watch the other characters decide how much corruption they are prepared to accept or participate in. Jack switches from being a journalist to what would now be called a specialist in "oppo" research (finding dirt on the opposing). A judge agrees to support Stark, swayed in part by the "good comes out of bad" argument, but probably swayed more by the chance to be Attorney General. Still, there is a limit, when he is forbidden to prosecute a crony of Stark's, when he must publicly oppose Stark. Even the prospect of blackmail will not force him to back down, only to kill himself.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about politics (and political scandals) today. What changes Stark from someone who just wants to help people to someone who is willing to do anything to get and keep power? Why was he unable to hold on to his ideals? Is it possible to accomplish what he did without making deals? How can you establish how far to go in compromising? Why did the "hicks" continue to support him, in spite of all the evidence against him?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 2006
DVD release date:June 5, 2001
Cast:Jack Burden, Sadie Burke, Willie Stark
Director:Robert Rossen
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Genre:Drama
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of All the King's Men (1949) was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written bywho3697cares November 8, 2009
AGE
11
QUALITY
 
A very good classic drama about politics.
Adult Written byMovieLover4Lyfe October 27, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
Good guy gone bad. That's the basis of this movie, when an essentially good hearted guy get some power thrown his way, he lets it corrupt him. A good movie overall.
Teen, 13 years old Written byBestPicture1996 January 2, 2010
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Fascinating drama, realisticly portrayed

What's to like about this movie is how a simple gain of power can turn one good-hearted man into a corrupt villian, and the domino effect which occurs.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools