all the kings men

All the King's Men (2006 film)

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.

Filming took place in New Orleans, Morgan City, Donaldsonville, at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge and many other places in Louisiana.

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.


Actor Role
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).

Richard Schickel (Time Magazine) liked the movie, arguing that "it's much more faithful to the tone of the novel" than the original.

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.

Differences between the book and the screenplay

  • The film (with the exception of flashbacks) is set during the early 1950s. The book is set during the Great Depression.
  • In the book, Sugar Boy is portrayed as a stuttering imbecile who worships Willie's every move. In the film, he rarely talks, and is portrayed as a strong and silent bodyguard. His adoration for the Boss is not emphasized.
  • Jack’s character is far more complex in the book. He is a pessimist, seems to be apathetic towards life, and is obsessed with Anne Stanton. The film only partially captures Jack’s feelings. Notably, his philosophical discussion in the novel about what he calls "The Great Twitch" is absent in the film. He is also semi-hostile towards negroes, an aspect that is not portrayed in the film.
  • Jack’s doctoral research storyline is not in the film. His research was about Cass Mastern, an ancestor who lived in the Antebellum South and fought in the American Civil War. The book devotes an extensive passage to the story of Mastern and the way in which he unwittingly and drastically influences the lives of others, which many critics have argued serves as the novel's moral center. Jack walks away from his study of Mastern because he is unwilling to accept the way in which people's actions influence the fates of others.
  • Jack is far more enraged in the book when he learns that Willie has taken Anne as a mistress.
  • The whole storyline in the book involving Tom Stark is removed. He is only seen a few times in the film. In the book Tom impregnates a girl, which threatens his governor father with a huge scandal (A scene to this effect is included on the DVD). His father whitewashes the situation by bribing the girl’s family, while his wife agrees to raise the child. Shortly afterwards, Tom gets seriously injured during a college football game. After an unsuccessful surgery performed by Adam Stanton and a revered spinal doctor, Tom becomes a vegetable, eventually dying shortly after his father’s assassination.
  • The film ends a few minutes after Willie Stark’s assassination, explaining little (through newspaper headlines) about what takes place after the event. In the book, the author/Jack Burden explains many things that take place after the assassination, which includes Tom’s death. By chance Jack encounters Sugar Boy at a library and nearly coaxes him into assassinating Tiny Duffy to avenge the death of Willie (A scene to this effect is included on the DVD). Jack also reveals that he and Anne got married. In addition, Jack returns to his study of Cass Mastern, now prepared to cope with "the awful responsibility of time."


See also

External links

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