All the King's Men
Sean Penn steps into Broderick Crawford’s Oscar winning shoes in a new adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s novel, which was inspired by the infamous Louisiana governor and Senator Huey ‘Kingfish’ Long: a politician so mired in corruption and greed that his reflection can be seen in certain modern previous senators from the more southerly parts of the US. In the 1949 Robert Rossen (The Hustler, Body and Soul) version, Crawford put in a mesmerising turn as the well intentioned-stalking-horse turned politico. In screenwriter and director Steve Zaillian’s remake, Penn, by contrast, is on I am Sam form, failing to give Stark enough charisma to convince as a vote-winning stalwart. Thus, the transformation of Stark hardly registers.
Aesthetically the film is all cold colours and smoky backdrops giving every exchange a laden pathos. The movie’s only point of future interest may well be that it was one of the last movies shot in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.