Following its critically acclaimed, award-winning Broadway run, All the Way (starring four-time Emmy® winner Bryan Cranston who reprises his Tony Award-winning role, is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s (LBJ) tumultuous first year in office in the wake of President Kennedy’s assassination.
Hailed as “dramatically dazzling” (Baltimore Sun) and “powerful” (Chicago Sun-Times), All the Way follows LBJ during his early administration, as he stakes his presidency on what would be a historic,unprecedented Civil Rights Act. Johnson finds himself caught between the moral imperative of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the expectations of the southern Democratic Party leaders who brought Johnson to power. As King battles to press Johnson while controlling more radical elements of the Civil Rights movement, Johnson navigates the bill through Congress, winning a landslide victory against Barry Goldwater, but causing the South to defect from the Democratic Party.
What We Thought:
Bryan Cranston is almost unrecognizable in All the Way. He proves yet again why he’s one of the best actors in the game right now. He’s utterly fantastic.
All the Way started as a play in Cambridge, MA after Breaking Bad ended. I wanted to catch it then, but scheduling didn’t work out. It moved to Broadway where Cranston won a Tony for his performance of LBJ. Watching the television movie version makes me wish I saw it on stage. I can’t, for the life of me, imagine how this story, all these characters could have worked on stage.
But this review is about the film version and it reminded me of another recent historical film Confirmation. Like that movie, I knew the overall story they were portraying, but didn’t know/remember all the details.
What really stands out to me is the portrayal of the Democratic Party. Today we think of the Democrats as Liberal, pro-diversity, pro-minorities, open-minded folk. They certainly weren’t that way then. Don’t get me wrong, the Far Left, Liberal side of the Dems were for the Civil Rights Movement, but the majority weren’t. The majority weren’t too keen on changing things and angering folk especially in the South.
Republicans get the reputation for being racists yet that was the party that freed the slaves and didn’t outright fight their own party over Civil Rights. High ranking Democrats fought LBJ over the movement and LBJ himself had his own beliefs. LBJ may have taken over the presidency after JFK’s assassination, but he didn’t take over Kennedy’s policies and beliefs.
The film is very historical and story driven. It’s a bit slow because of that, but that’s understandable. It’s also extremely well acted. Besides Cranston being Cranston, Anthony Mackie proves he can do more than comic book movies. Melissa Leo is always good (here she plays the First Lady). Stephen Root is a personal favorite and Bradley Whitford is almost unrecognizable as well. It’s simply top-notch actors doing top-notch work with a powerful (and still timely) story.
All the Way is definitely recommended. History buffs will eat it up and Cranston fans will enjoy it as well. I enjoy historical pieces so I thoroughly liked it. I still wish I saw it on stage though!
- Bryan Cranston Becoming LBJ
- All The Way: A Walk Through History
Cast & Crew:
- Bryan Cranston
- Melissa Leo
- Anthony Mackie
- Bradley Whitford
Recommended If You Like:
- Political Dramas