All the King's Men



direction and screenplay by Robert Rossen 1949

Adapted from a novel by Robert Penn Warren



Scene 1: Political Lessons

[Scene runs from 26:14 to 29:07. For those with DVDs, it occurs at the beginning of ch. 11.]

[Shot begins with Sadie being awakened by Willie practicing his usual speech in the next room.]

Jack: No, Willie, no!

Sadie: (shouting from next room) What I need is some sleep! Shut up!

Jack: (to Sadie:) Shut up yourself! (to Willie:) Try it on your feet.

Willie: My feet are killing me. Let me stay here, huh?

Jack: Look, Willie, you tell them too much. Just tell them you’re going to soak the fat boys and forget the rest of the tax stuff.

Willie: That’s what I say.

Jack: But it’s the way you say it. Willie, make ‘em cry, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em mad, even mad at you, stir them up and they’ll love it and come back for more, but for heaven’s sake don’t try to improve their minds!

Willie: A man don’t have to be governor.

Jack: What?

Willie: A man don’t have to be governor.

Jack: Well, they haven’t counted the votes yet.

Willie: Oh, I’m going to lose, Mr. Burden, I know that. Don’t try and fool me. I’m not going to lie to you. I wanted it. I wanted it so badly I’ve stayed up nights thinking about it. A man wants something so badly he gets mixed up in knowing what he wants. It’s something inside of you. I would have made a good governor. Better than those other fellows. (continues muttering to himself as Sadie enters) Great governor (pause),would have built highways, built schools (trails off)

Sadie: If you won’t let me sleep, you might at least give me a drink.

Jack: Help yourself.

Sadie: What’s up?

Jack : Nothing. Except Willie here is saying how he’s not going to be governor.

Sadie: So you told him?

Jack: I don’t tell anyone anything. I just listen.

Sadie: (to Willie:) Who told you?

Willie: Told me what? (now suspicious) Told me what?

Sadie: That you’re not going to be governor.

Willie: Jack, told me what? (to Sadie, demandingly:) Told me what?

Sadie: All right, that you’ve been framed, you poor sap!

Willie: Framed?

Sadie: And how! Oh you decoy, you wooden head decoy! And you let ‘em! Why you’re the goat. You are the sacrificial goat. You are a sap because you let ‘em.

Jack: Sadie, that’s enough.

Sadie: Enough! He didn’t even get anything out of it! They’d have paid you to take a rap like that. But they didn’t have to pay a sap like you, oh no. You were so full of yourself and hot air all you wanted was a chance to stand up on your hind legs and make a speech. (mockingly) “My friends! My friends, what this state needs is a good five-cent cigar! What this state needs is ” [trails off, in disgust]

Willie: (to Jack:) Is it true?

Sadie: He wants to know if it’s true!

Willie: Is it true?

Jack: That’s what they tell me.

Sadie: (pouring a shot for Willie) Here. (He downs it)

Jack: Hey, lay off of that. You’re not used to it.

Sadie: He’s not used to a lot of things. Are you, Willie?

Jack: Why don’t you lay off ‘em, Sadie.

Sadie: (continues taunting Willie, almost barking at him:) Are ya! Are ya!

Scene 2: The “Hick” Speech

[Scene runs from to32:28-36:33. For those with DVDs, it occurs one minute into ch. 12.]

[After he understands that he has been framed by the politicians, Willie, now somewhat inebriated, mounts the platform to deliver the scheduled speech].

Politician: Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce to you a true man of the people, the next governor of the state, Willie Stark.

Stark: My friends, I have a speech here. [He pulls paper out of his pocket.] It’s a speech about what this state needs, but there’s no need in my telling you what this state needs. You are the state, and you know what you need. [addressing a man in the audience] You, over there, look at your pants. Have they got holes in their knees? [to everyone] Listen to your stomach.. Did you ever hear it rumble for hunger? [to other members of the audience] And, you, what about your crops? Did they ever rot in the fields because the road was so bad you couldn’t get them to market? What about your kids? Are they growing up ignorant as dirt, ignorant as you, because there’s no school for them?

No, I’m not going to read you any speech [throwing speech to the side]. But I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a funny story, so get ready to laugh

Sadie: [in an aside, to Jack] What’s he up to?

Jack: [to Sadie] Shut up.

Stark: [continuing] get ready to burst your sides laughing because it sure is a funny story. It’s about a hick. A hick like you. He grew up on the dirt roads in the gully washes of a farm. He knew what it was to get up before dawn, get feed, slop and milk, and set out before sun up, and then walk six miles to a one-room slab-sided school house. Of, this hick knew what it was to be a hick, all right. [Camera cuts to politicians, who are looking rather unhappy.] He figured that if he was going to get anything done, 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. I’m not going to lie to you. He didn’t start off thinking about the hicks and all the wonderful things he was going to do for them. No. No, he started off thinking of number one. But something came to him on the way. How he could do nothing 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 lightening that back in his own home county when the school building collapsed because it was built with politics’ rotten brick. It killed and mangled a dozen kids. But you know that story. The people were his friends because he fought that rotten brick. Some of the politicians down in the city knew this. So they rose up to his house in a big shiny car and said as how they wanted him to run for governor.

Jack: [in the audience, to Sadie:] He’s wonderful. Wonderful.

Stark: And he swallowed it. He looked in his heart and he thought with all humility how he’s like to try to change things. He was just a country boy who thought that even the plainest, poorest man could be governor if his fellow citizens find he’s got the stuff for the job. Those fellows in the striped pants saw that hick and they took him in.

Politician: [coming up to Willie on the platform] Willie, what are you doing?

Stark: There he is, there’s your Judas Iscariot. Look at him. The lick spittle, nose-wiper. Look at him.

[Pandemonium breaks out. Politician runs up the platform.]

Politician: That’s a lie.

Stark: Look at him.

Politician: [to the musicians] Play anything. [Scuffling]

Stark: [gaining control of the situation] Now shut up. Shut up, all of you. Listen to me, you hicks. They fooled me. And they fooled you a thousand times, just like they fooled me. But this time I’m going to fool somebody. I’m going to stay in this race. I’m on my own, and I’m out for blood. Listen to me, you hicks,

Scene shifts to Jack Burden, at his typewriter.

Stark: 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. Listen to me. I’m the hick they were going to use to split the hick vote. But I’m standing here now on my hind legs. Even a dog can learn to do that. Are you standing on your hind legs? Have you learned that much yet? Here it is, you hick. Nail up anybody who stands in your way. Nail up Joe Harrison. Nail up McMurphey. And if they don’t deliver, give me a hammer, and I’ll do it myself.

Scene 3: Good Out of Bad

[Scene runs from 42:19 to 44:35. For those with DVDs, it occurs at the beginning of ch. 14.]

[The scene is Burden’s Landing scene. Stark is wrapping up a speech in the Stanton house to a small audience of Burden’s Landing residents, with Jack at his side. Jack’s mother and husband are present, as are the Judge, his son Adam and daughter Ann, who are both childhood friends of Jack’s.]

Stark: It’s a far cry from where I came from, this house. Standing here in front of the portrait of one of the greatest governors of this state, and talking to you people, well, it’s an honor I never thought I’d have. (applause)

Jack: Are there any questions? Mr. Avoy?

McAvoy: No (smiling). I have no questions.

Jack: Judge?

Judge: A few, but it will hold.

Adam: I have a question.

Stark: Shoot.

Adam: A lot of people in this state have been saying that you’ve been making deals, some of them with the very groups that you claim you’re against. Is that true?

Jack: Adam, you know how rumors start

Stark: (interrupting Jack) Yes. Yes, that’s true. I have nothing to hide. I’ll make a deal with the devil if it will help me carry out my program. But believe me, there are no strings attached to those deals.

Adam: You’re sure about that?

Stark: Doc, Jack here has been telling me how you feel about things. How you’d like to see the sick people in this state given a break. How you’d like to see a new hospital built, a hospital that’s the biggest and best that money can buy. You want these things, doc, because, well, you’re a man who wants to do good. Now I’d like to ask you a question.

Adam: Shoot.

Stark: Do you know what good comes out of?

Adam: You tell me, Mr. Stark.

Stark: Out of bad, that’s what good comes out of. Because you can’t make it out of anything else. You didn’t know that, did you?

Adam: No, I didn’t. There’s another question I’d like to ask you. You say that there’s only bad to start with, that the good must come from the bad. Who’s to determine what’s good and what’s bad? You?

Stark: Why not?

Adam: How?

Stark: It’s easy. Just make it up as you go along. (laughter)
Folks, there’s a time to talk and a time to act. I think the time to act is right now. And with your support, I not only will win, but I will do all the things I’ve promised. I need your help; oh, I need it badly, but I’m not going to beg for it. In the name of this state which we love, in the name of the governor in whose house we speak, I demand it. (applause)

Ann gets up and walks toward Willie. Scene ends with her looking at him in admiration.

Scene 4: Pillsbury and The Judge’s Resignation

[Scene runs from 51:03 to 55:37. For those with DVDs, it occurs at the beginning of ch. 17.]

[Sadie has just expressed her anger at Stark for womanizing. Stark and his “men” (Sadie, Jack, Sugar, and Tiny) are in a hotel room. Pillsbury, a Stark administration official, has just been caught in some kind of graft.]

Stark: Look at you Pillsbury. Fifty years old. Gut sprung, teeth gone, never had a dime. If the Almighty had intended for you to be rich he’d have taken care oft that a long time ago. The idea of you being rich, that’s plain blasphemy. Ain’t that a fact? Answer me.

Pillsbury: Yes.

Stark: Louder man! Don’t mumble, speak up, say it’s a fact, a blasphemous fact!

Pillsbury: It’s a fact, a blasphemous fact! (Sugar laughs, Sadie’s telephone rings)

Sadie: (hanging up the phone) Dumont says he can’t come. He says his wife is sick.

Stark: I don’t care if she’s dying. Sugar, get the car. Get him and bring him here. (to Pillsbury:) Now you know what you’re supposed to do, don’t you, Pillsbury? You’re supposed to stay poor and take orders. Of, there’ll be some sweetening for you from time to time. Duffy will take care of that. Don’t you go setting yourself up on your own again. Do you understand that?

Pillsbury: Yes.

Stark: Louder man and say you understand that!

Pillsbury: I understand that!

Stark: Give him a pen and some paper, Sadie. (knocking at door) See who that is, Duffy. (enter Judge) Hello, Judge, sit down. I’ll be with you in just a couple of seconds. (to Pillsbury) Now write what I tell you to write: “Dear Governor Stark. I wish to resign as auditor due to ill health, to take effect as soon as you can relieve me. Respectfully yours.” Did you sign it?

Pillsbury: No.

Stark: Well, sign it! And don’t put any date on it. I can fill it in when I need it. Now bring it to me. (Pillsbury does so, and Willie looks it over.) Now get out. (exit Pillsbury)

Judge: The papers have the story. They’re talking about impeachment proceedings.

Stark: Against who?

Judge: This time, Pillsbury.

Stark: I got that “this time,” Judge.

Judge: How true is it?

Stark: It’s too true. (phone rings)

Sadie: (picks it up) It’s Jeff Hopkins on the wire.

Stark: What have we got on Hopkins, Jack? (taking phone) Hello, Jeff, about this Pillsbury business. Here’s what I want you to do when it comes up in the legislature. (Camera cuts to the judge’s troubled face.)
(pause, and Jack shows Stark a page in his notebook) (Jack looks troubled too, and the camera cuts to the judge who is staring at him.)
Now wait a minute, wait minute, you listen to me! You’ve got a mortgage comin’ due on that place of yours in about five weeks, haven’t you? You’d like to have it get renewed, wouldn’t you? All right, Tiny will talk to you in the morning. (to Tiny) Get going.

Judge: You haven’t answered my question: why are you saving Pillsbury’s hide?

Stark: I’m not a bit interested in Pillsbury’s hide, it’s something much more important than that. If McMurphy’s boys get the notion they can get away with this, there’s no tellin’ where they’ll stop.

Judge: Or where you will. Pillsbury’s guilty! As Attorney General of this state, it’s my job to prosecute.

Stark: Judge, you talk as if Pillsbury was human. He isn’t. He’s a thing. You don’t prosecute an adding machine if a spring goes busted and makes a mistake--you fix it. Well, I fixed him. No, I’m not a bit interested in Pillsbury, it’s something much bigger than that.

Judge: Yes, it is. (stands, prepares to leave)

Jack: (following the Judge to the door) He’s right, judge. Can’t you see that he’s right?

Judge: He’s right because you want him to be right, because you’re afraid to admit you made a mistake. Do it now, before it’s too late. (to Stark:) I’m offering my resignation as Attorney General. You’ll have it in writing by messenger in the morning. Dated.

Stark: It took you a long time to make up you mind, Judge. A long time. What made you take such a long time?

Judge: I wasn’t sure.

Stark: Well, now you are. I’ll tell you what you are, you’re scared. You sat in that big easy chair of yours for thirty years and played at being a judge. And all of a sudden I came along and put a bat in your hand and said , “go ahead, Judge, start swinging,” and you had a wonderful time, but now you’re scared. You don’t want to get your hands dirty. You want to pick up the marbles but you don’t want to get your hands dirty. Look at my whole program Judge, how do think I put that across?

Judge: I knew how, but I never knew why.

Stark: You’re not by any chance thinking of going over to McMurphy’s boys are you?

Judge: I’m through with politics.

Stark: I’m happy to hear that. No hard feelings (extending hand to the judge)

Judge: (rejecting handshake, he begins to leave) Goodbye, Governor. (to Jack:) You coming with me, Jack? (Jack doesn’t respond) You’re making a mistake.

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