All the King's Men is a 2006 film adaptation of the 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. It was directed by Steven Zaillian, who also produced and scripted the film. The story is about the life of Willie Stark (played by Sean Penn), a fictional character resembling Louisiana governor Huey Long.
All the King's Men had previously been adapted by Robert Rossen in 1949. Although it does not follow the 1949 film's narrative and is more faithful to the novel than the earlier movie, the 2006 film is often considered a remake of the 1949 version. According to IMDb, Zaillian never saw the original film, and adapted the screenplay solely from Warren's novel.
The world premiere was held at the Toronto Film Festival on September 11, 2006. There the film was first screened to the press.
A special screening was held at the Tulane University in New Orleans on September 16, 2006.
|Sean Penn||Willie Stark (based on Huey Long)|
|Jude Law||Jack Burden|
|Kate Winslet||Anne Stanton|
|Anthony Hopkins||Judge Irwin|
|James Gandolfini||Tiny Duffy|
|Patricia Clarkson||Sadie Burke|
|Mark Ruffalo||Adam Stanton|
|Kathy Baker||Mrs. Burden|
|Travis Champagne||Tom Stark|
|Jackie Earle Haley||Roderick "Sugar Boy" Ellis|
|Connor Fux||Tennis Boy|
|Montgomery John||Adam Stanton, Age 11|
The film was a commercial failure, despite its strong cast, direction, and production team. Few critics endorsed it, despite garnering strong Oscar buzz before its initial opening.
Entertainment Weekly in its August 18, 2006 volume included All the King's Men in its Oscar Preview and said the film was most likely to win an Oscar. The article concluded the only reason for the film not to win an Oscar was its delayed opening (the film was originally to be opened in 2005).
Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times) praised the film's "undeniable moral seriousness" and the actors' "exceptional ensemble work." He argued that Zaillian's script and direction "expertly extracted the core of this greatest of American political novels, a work that is both of its time and outside it.
A.O. Scott (NY Times) expresses disappointment with the film: "Nothing in the picture works. It is both overwrought and tedious, its complicated narrative bogging down in lyrical voiceover, long flashbacks and endless expository conversations between people speaking radically incompatible accents.
Michael Medved gave All the King's Men two stars (out of four) calling it "depressing and disappointing", a "stodgy melodrama" and a "pointless, pretentious, plodding period-piece". Recently, the film was featured in Nathan Rabin's ongoing blog feature for The Onion's A.V. Club, "My Year of Flops". Of three categories (failure, fiasco, or secret success), he labeled All the King's Men as a failure and said of the film: "Zaillian’s dud manages the formidable feat of being at once histrionic and agonizingly dull, hysterically over-the-top yet strangely lifeless.
Zaillian was clearly stunned by the poor critical and box-office results of this film, which opened with only $3.8 million and barely made $7.2 million at the end of its run in US theaters. The weekend's other new wide release, Jackass Number Two, made $28.1 million.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Zaillian said that it was "like getting hit by a truck. ... I don't know what to make of it.