All the King's Men (1949 film)
All the King's Men is a 1949 film about the rise of politician Willie Stark from a rural county seat to the spotlight who, along the way, loses his initial innocence, and becomes just as corrupt as those whom he had previously assaulted.
- My friends, my friends, I have a speech here. It's a speech about what this state needs. There's no need in my telling you what this state needs. You are the state and you know what you need. You over there, look at your pants. Have they got holes in the knees? Listen to your stomach. Did you ever hear it rumble for hunger? And you, what about your crops? Did they ever rot in the field because the road was so bad you couldn't get 'em to market? And you, what about your kids? Are they growin' up ignorant as dirt, ignorant as you 'cause there's no school for 'em? [casts his speech away] Naw, I'm not gonna read you any speech. But I am gonna tell ya a story. It's a funny story so get ready to laugh....Get ready to bust your sides laughin', 'cause it's sure a funny story. It's about a hick, a hick like you, if ya please. Yeah, like you. He grew up on the dirt roads and the gully washes of a farm. He knew what it was to get up before dawn and get feed and slop and milk before breakfast, and then set out before sunup and walk six miles to a one-room, slab-sided schoolhouse. Aw, this hick knew what it was to be a hick, all right. He figured if he was gonna get anything done, well, he had to do it himself. So he sat up nights and studied books. He studied law, because he thought he might be able to change things some - for himself and for folks like him. Now I'm not gonna lie to ya. He didn't start off thinkin' about the hicks and all the wonderful things he was gonna do for 'em. Naw, naw, he started off thinkin' of number one. But somethin' came to him on the way. How he could do nothin' for himself without the help of the people. That's what came to him. And it also came to him with the powerful force of God's own lightning back in his home county when the school building collapsed 'cause it was built of politics' rotten brick. It killed and mangled a dozen kids. But you know that story. The people were his friends because he'd fought that rotten brick. And some of the politicians down in the city, they knew that, so they rode up to his house in a big, fine, shiny car and said as how they wanted him to run for Governor....And he swallowed it. He looked in his heart and he thought in all humility, how he'd like to try and change things. He was just a country boy who thought that even the plainest, poorest man can be Governor if his fellow citizens find he's got the stuff for the job. All those fellas in the striped pants, they saw that hick and they took him in...
There he is! There's your Judas Iscariot! Look at him! ...Look at him....! (Chaos) Now, shut up! Shut up, all of ya! Now listen to me, ya hicks. Yeah, you're hicks too, and they fooled you a thousand times just like they fooled me. But this time, I'm gonna fool somebody. I'm gonna stay in this race. I'm on my own and I'm out for blood. Now listen to me, you hicks! Listen to me, and lift up your eyes and look at God's blessed and unfly-blown truth. And this is the truth! You're a hick, and nobody ever helped a hick but a hick himself! Alright, listen to me! Listen to me! I'm the hick they were gonna use to split the hick vote. Well, I'm standin' right here now on my hind legs. Even a dog can learn to do that. Are you standin' on your hind legs? Have you learned to do that much yet? Here it is! Here it is, ya hicks! Nail up anybody who stands in your way! Nail up Joe Harrison! Nail up McMurphy! And if they don't deliver, give me the hammer and I'll do it myself!
- Jack, there's something on everybody. Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption.
- They tried to ruin me but they are ruined. They tried to ruin me, because they did not like what I have done. Do you like what I have done? Remember, it is not I who have won, but you. Your will is my strength, and your need is my justice, and I shall live in your right and your will. And if any man tries to stop me from fulfilling that right and that will, I'll break him. I'll break him with my bare hands, for I have the strength of many.
- [in his newspaper article] As I watched him shake his big fist and listened to his words boom out across that field, I had the feeling that here was a man with a will of iron. I had the feeling that Willie Stark would neither be steered away nor scared away from his purpose. I had the feeling that in Willie Stark, Kanoma County had found that rare thing: an honest man with courage.
- What if it is his bribe? He swept the old gang out of office. What if they hollered like stuck pigs? He jammed through bill after bill and the people got what they wanted...He started to build the roads, schools, power dams, to change the face of the state from one end to the other. His methods? Politics is a dirty game and he played it rough and dirty. Willie's little black book was a record of sin and corruption. And me, Jack Burden, I kept the book and added up the accounts. Clown, show-off, playboy they yelled at him. Building football stadiums, fiercely proud of his son who played...He said he was building up a private army, but he was building, always building, always playing up to the crowd, letting them trample on tradition. Well, tradition needed trampling on. The crowds loved it, and Willie loved it, and so did I.
- Jack: You don't have to be smart to frame a guy like Willie Stark.
- Sadie: No, no brother, you don't.
- Jack: It is a frame, isn't it?...To split the vote and win the election for Harrison, huh?
- Sadie: You know, why do ya ask?
- Jack: I just want to make sure. Look, why don't you tell the boys to save their money? Willie couldn't steal a vote from Abe Lincoln in the cradle of the Confederacy.
- Sadie: I wish the poor ...had enough sense to have somebody give him a good reason for the beating he's going to get. 'Cause this way, all he gets out of it is the ride. Hey, those speeches, ain't they awful? Ain't they just plain awful? Question to you: If somebody told him he was a sucker, do you think he'd quit?
- Jack: I don't know, Sadie. I really don't know.
- Jack: I learned something from him [Willie]. You can't make an omelet without cracking eggs.
- Adam: Or heads?
- Anne: But at least a hospital will be built and the sick will be cared for.
- Adam: At what price?
- Jack: At any price.
- Adam: Do you really believe that, Jack?
- Jack: I really believe that Stark wants to do good. You do too. It's a matter of method. Many times, out of evil comes good. Pain is evil. As a doctor, you should know that.
- Adam: Pain is an evil. It is not evil. It is not evil in itself. Stark is evil.
- Jack: The people of this state don't think so.
- Adam: How would they know? The first thing Stark did was to take over the newspapers and the radio stations. Why be so afraid of criticism? If Stark is interested in doing good, he should also be interested in the truth. I don't see how you can separate the two. No, Stark is not for me.
- Anne: No, Stark is not for you. Well, what's for you? Pride, pride, that's all it is, foolish, stupid pride. All you've ever talked about is what you could do if somebody would tear down and build. All right, all right, somebody has and he's given it to you. But he's not for you. No, he's not for you.
- Jack: Why did you do it?
- Anne: He wasn't like anybody I ever knew before.
- Jack: You mean he wasn't like me.
- Anne: He wasn't like anybody I ever knew before. I love him, I guess. I guess that's the reason.
- Jack: Everybody loves him.
- Anne: He wants to marry me.
- Jack: Are you going to?
- Anne: Not now, it would hurt him. Divorce would hurt his career.
- Jack: His career!
- Anne: Jack, Jack, what are you going to do? You can't leave him now. He needs you now more than he ever did before.
- Jack: What Willie needs, Willie's got.
- Anne: You don't know him. You've known him all these years and you don't really know him at all.
- Jack: What about Adam?
- Anne: Adam?
- Jack: Well, you don't have to worry about him. If Adam finds out, it'll be easy to prove a Stanton is no different than anyone else. Just show him these. [He hands her evidence he uncovered about her uncle] Willie was right. Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption, even Judge Stanton. Show them to him, Anne. Change the picture of the world that Adam has in his head, just like our picture of it has been changed. Wipe out everything he's ever believed in, it'll be good for him. There's no god but Willie Stark. I'm his prophet and you're his... Anne, Anne, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. Anne.
- Jack: Anne, where are you going?
- Anne: I don't know. Leave me alone.
- Jack: To do what?
- Anne: I don't care.
- Jack: No, that's too easy.
- Anne: I don't know, I don't know, I don't know!
- Jack: I do.
- Anne: Leave me alone, please.
- Jack: No, no more.
- Anne: He's dead.
- Jack: We're alive.
- Anne: My brother's dead.
- Jack: We've got to go on living.
- Anne: How?
- Jack: So that Adam's death has meaning. So that it wasn't wasted. Anne, our life has to give his death meaning. Don't you see that? Look at those people. LOOK AT THEM! They still believe. And we've got to make them see Willie the way Adam always saw him or there's no meaning in anything, anything.
- He Might Have Been A Pretty Good Guy ... If Too Much Power ... And Women ... Hadn't Gone To his Head !
- He thought he had the world by the tail - till it exploded in his face, with a bullet attached!