I will admit, I am buyist on this one. I remember watching the 2006 remake, and thought specifics really escape me, I remember being overall impressed with it.
This one ... well, it wasn't as impressive. I will say this: it is a great story with some great thoughts and could prompt a very interesting conversasion or debate. But that has a lot of to with the writer of the book, and less with the movie itself. I guess for its time it was pretty good. It was nominated for and won Academy Awards, and even time has given it's stamp of approval as it is honored in the National Film Registry.
Still. For me, it just moves too quickly. Things happen, but you don't feel anything. A guy is shot. A girl dies from a car accident. A boy becomes paralyzed. But none of it means anything. Okay, so Broderick Crawford won for Best Actor, but he doesn't have half the charisma as his 2006 counterpart: Sean Penn. I will say this: you are able to see the transition more in Crawford from bumbling hick to corrupt politition, but a lot of that has to do with what is shown in the movie. But Penn brings the houses down with his speeches and his transitions from honest to corrupt completely trump Crawford. Sean Penn steals it.
The girl playing Anne annoyed the HELL out of me. Part of that has to do with the character, I will admit that. She doesn't play her part well enough. Was it the goal of the director to have people dislike her? If it was, then I retract the previous statement and say "well done." But, if he wanted her to be sympathetic, they went about it all wrong. There was no reason for what she did, and there was no feeling there. There was one thing she was really good at: being shaken and tossing her head to avoid looking at someone. That was about it.
I don't remember that much more specifically about the 2006 movie except that it was gorgeously shot. The cinematography in this movie was just there. There were very few interesting shots, nothing memorable. But, even without knowing the specifics, I remember enough about the movie to know that it was better than this one.
What is good about this movie/original book (although I haven't read it)/2006 movie, is the question it asks: Does the end really justify the means? Do you excuse all if the end is good? Or, if the end is horrible, does it stain forever the journey there, even if it is well intentioned and beautiful? It is easy to see why the book won the Pulitzer prize. It makes me want to join a discussion group, it really does.
Sorry. I'll be generous and say 3 out of 5 stars.