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All the King's Men

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Quick! Tell me the name of an honest current politician!

Time's up. You can’t, can you? Alright, I’ll give you another five seconds…………BZZZRTT! You still couldn’t do it, could you?

That’s because it’s a trick question. There’s no such thing as an honest politician.

Oh sure, maybe some start out with noble intentions, but then the system gets them too, and they became just another lying, self-serving, two-faced, dishonest, do-nothing bureaucrat.

In All the King’s Men, Willie Stark is just like this. He starts off trying to represent the people and do what’s right. He’s an honest man, with a good cause. He butts heads with those in power, and is pushed back into the dirt. Then one day fate steps in and he is given a chance to really have a run at being a politician with clout. Then the system gets him. The power, the glory and the money get the better of him and he becomes just like the people he once fought against. He’s no longer one of the people he pretends to represent. He believes himself above them, to know better than them, to do things for their own good.

He is, in short, a politician.

Do you get the impression I don’t like politicians much?

Lately, I’ve become more and more distrustful of them. Take our own Steve Bracks. A few years back I voted for him because I was sick of that arrogant shithead Jeff Kennett. Bracks seemed like a nice bloke full of beans. Seems a lot of people thought the same and out went Kennett and in came Bracks in an election result that shocked many.

Unfortunately, all you ever hear from Bracks is “We’ll examine this” or “We’ll look into that” or “We’re examining it and we’ll look into the results and see if it needs some more examining.” Now, that’s all he does. Examines and looks. Examines and looks. In the end, all that gets done is a lot of examining and looking. Nothing actually happens. Nothing. When you question him about it, all he can say is “We’ve put on a few more police” or “We’ll examine your question.”

Well Bracks, you can examine my arse, because at the next election I’m voting for the opposition.

So anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Willie Stark. Shifty, corrupt politician. But when you think of it, at least he gets stuff done. He builds bridges, schools, hospitals, whatever needs building. He just goes and gets it built. Makes jobs, stirs the economy, gives people hope.

So maybe being corrupt is the key to being a good politician? You take a few bribes, you build a few schools. You sleep with some whores, you create some new jobs. When you think of it, it’s not too bad, really.

Maybe Bracks should take some bribes, pull the stick out of his arse, stop being such a bloody boy scout and wallow in the dirt a little, like Kennett and Willie Stark did. If he did this, maybe things would get done and I’d vote for him again.

  Video
Contract

This film was made in 1949! That over 50 years ago, and it sure does look good. It also comes from the days before widescreen was used, so the DVD aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is the correct framing for the original 1.37:1 ratio. The black and white image is as good as you could hope, even with a liberal peppering of film artefacts throughout which never really draws too much attention away from the story. The tonal range is quite good as well, with fair detail in the extremes.

The detail itself is good, with the clarity such that you can make out the pattern and print in the clothing easily, even though it does often dip a little from sharp to soft. In all, I’m sure they’re fairly happy that the single-layered transfer here is faithful to the original look of the film.

  Audio
Contract

The mono audio is presented through two channels rather than just the single centre, and even though I usually don’t like the resultant sound, the quality here is sometimes suprisingly good. I expected audible hiss and distortion to creep in, but it stays remarkably clear and free from this even at louder volumes.

The film obviously relies on the prime importance of the dialogue is very good and clearly discernable at all times, even with most crowd scenes or moments containing shouting or lowered voices.

The sound overall in a little fuller than I would have imagined and most times overcame the limitations of a mono mix very well.

  Extras
Contract

There's just a brief extras list for this release, consisting of Trailers for this film and another for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Filmographies for cast and crew. A disappointing showing here, but the film is still good enough to stand on its own.

  Overall  
Contract

All the King’s Men should be made mandatory viewing in all schools so kids can learn from an early age what a bunch of shifty bastards politicians are. I guess in the end any movie that makes me think this clearly about politics can’t be too bad, can it?

It’s a fine film with good performances all 'round from the cast, particularly Broderick Crawford as the power hungry Willie Stark, who won the Best Actor gong for his role.

All up it won three Academy Awards, for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress in 1949, which isn’t a bad result.

Wouldn’t it be funny if they bribed the judges?


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      And I quote...
    "All the King’s Men should be made mandatory viewing in all schools so kids can learn from an early age what a bunch of shifty bastards politicians are. "
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB1070
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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