All the King's Men (1949)
What is it? Based loosely on corrupt Louisiana governor Huey Long, this is the story of Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford), a populist with good intentions who becomes a monster once in office.
Why did it win? In 1949, Huey Long's exploits were still within living memory (he was killed in 1935) and common knowledge for many, giving this film a resonance that the 2006 remake, say, lacked. Having nominated the wrong films, it didn't have that much competition either - by this time War movie fatigue probably crippled Twelve O'Clock High and Battleground's chances.
Did it deserve to win? The list of nominees for this year is one of those mystifying ones: where is White Heat? Kind Hearts And Coronets? Among the list here, this isn't a bad choice but Twelve O'Clock High - with Gregory Peck as the General who reforms a parachute regiment - is almost as good. The other nominees were Battleground (Battle of the Bulge drama), The Heiress (dastardly suitor - or is he? - melodrama) and A Letter To Three Wives (quality melodrama).
Worth a look? Sure, for fans of corrupt politics.