ALL THE KING'S MEN

REVIEW BY DAVE SMITH

 

Not many critics have given this movie a good review. However I recommend it for no other reason than to see Sean Penn's bravura performance. OK maybe Penn does go over the top a little and maybe his heavy southern accent is hard to understand, but there is no denying the power of his performance. In fact, some reviewers have said that one of the problems with this movie is that we don't see enough of Penn. Director Steven Zaillian has put more emphasis on the subplot than was necessary. Perhaps it was because he had these high priced, high profile actors ...Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Kate Winslet and thought he had to beef up the subplot in order to use them more. Big mistake! Britishers Law and Winslet have trouble affecting a believable southern accent and Hopkins doesn't even try. Law and Winslet suffer from extreme blandness, especially when they are up against Penn.

It's always tough to do a remake of a very successful movie. The 1949 film of this Robert Penn Warren novel won a best picture Oscar. There is no danger that this one will do that. Broderick Crawford won an Oscar for best actor. There is a chance Penn might get nominated but his chances will be diminished by the savage reviews the film is getting. Mercedes McCambridge won an Oscar for best supporting actress. Patricia Clarkson isn't in the same league as McCambridge. James Gandolfini, taking a break from "The Sopranos," is one of the bright spots in the film. His portrayal of "Tiny" is right on target. South Bend, Indiana native Ralph Dumke played "Tiny" in the original. Despite the fact he is not a Hoosier, I think Gandolfini is better.

Everyone knows the subject of this film is Huey Long, former governor of Louisiana. In the film he is called Willie Stark. Long was a hick, elected by hicks. He kept many of his campaign promises, building roads, bridges, health clinics and schools in a state that sorely needed them. His dictatorial style made many enemies. He was assassinated by the son-in-law of a political enemy.

The story of the life of Huey Long is fascinating. Unfortunately this film is not.  

 

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