Originally produced as a motion picture in 1949.
Based on the book by Robert Penn Warren.
Winner, 1950 Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role--Mercedes McCambridge, Best Actor in a Leading Role--Broderick Crawford, Best Picture--Robert Rossen Productions; 1950 Writer's Guild of America Awards for Best Written American Drama and The Robert Meltzer Award (Screenplay Dealing Most Ably with Problems of the American Scene)--Robert Rossen; 1950 Golden Globe Awards for Most Promising Newcomer-Female and Best Supporting Actress--Mercedes McCambridge, Best Motion Picture Actor--Broderick Crawford, Best Motion Picture Director--Robert Rossen, Best Motion Picture-Drama.
This is the story of working class hero Southern demagogue Willie Stark--rising from the mud of the back country--and his long climb to the top, followed by his longer drop to the bottom. Abetted by newspaper reporter Jack Burden, who becomes his chronicler, Stark's career begins with running for county treasurer and losing. Through law school, private practice, and finally as people's advocate against corruption, he moves up the political ladder. In his 2nd run for governor, Willie vows to give the people new hospitals, schools, roads -- and when he's elected, he delivers. But the more power he gets, the more corrupt he acts, until he's unrecognizable. He chases women, turns his family into photo-op props, and makes Burden his personal character assassin. Do the ends justify the means? Is it power that corrupts, or is it that power allows people to be corrupt? These are the questions that Willie Stark, in the end, cannot answer.
Written for the screen and directed by Robert Rossen; director of photography, Burnett Guffey; art director, Sturges Carne; film editor, Al Clark; montages, Donald W. Starling; gowns, Jean Louis; musical score by Louis Gruenberg.