Graft is rampant in the government of a "mythical" Louisiana, and the arrival of U.S. Senate investigator Loganberry brings panic. The chief miscreants shift the blame on to their innocent tool, Jim Taylor, who to save himself must "compromise" the simon-pure Senator Loganberry. As his instrument, Jim selects Marina Von Minden, beautiful Viennese refugee. But matters become complicated when Jim falls for Marina... and she takes a liking for the Senator. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
I think if more movie viewers knew the story behind Louisiana Purchase the film might be better appreciated on some levels and downgraded on others.
Five years before Louisiana Purchase made it to Broadway, Huey P. Long was shot and killed in the State Capitol building in Baton Rouge. What Senator Long's intentions were for the future as far as national office was concerned is speculative fodder for historians. But he did leave behind a political machine that was the closest thing to a dictatorship we had in America's 20th Century.
Long gathered around him a gang of crooks that had few rivals among other political machines in skullduggery. Long was also smart in making very sure that very few of them were likely to be rivals. In fact some years earlier, Huey had some real problems with a Lieutenant Governor who started showing signs of independence. But that's another story.
When he died the sins of his henchmen couldn't be covered up for any length of time. Even while he was alive, FDR's Justice Department was digging into Louisiana for scandal. After Huey Long died it all came out. During the late thirties the newspapers were filled with stories of indictments and convictions coming out of Louisiana from the Governor on down. The title of the film comes from the popular name for the Long machine scandals, which were dubbed the Second Louisiana Purchase, like Watergate became the term for all the corruption stemming from the Nixon administration.
Maybe one day someone might do a serious expose of those scandals and they might make a great film. But this Louisiana Purchase isn't it.
Maybe because it was done too gently on Broadway to be real satire. The plot here and on Broadway is that the gang (who in real life would have had trouble tying their shoelaces without the Kingfish's brain behind them) frame a schnook of a State Representative as the fall guy for all the corruption. On Broadway it was William Gaxton, for the movies it was Bob Hope.
As written it's a typical Bob Hope role with a lot of topical humor that might be lost on today's audience. Irving Berlin did the songs for Louisiana Purchase. The show marked his return to Broadway, he was last there in 1933 for As Thousands Cheer. And it was his first book musical since The Cocoanuts. Berlin as a rule favored revue type shows. After Louisiana Purchase, Berlin did no other kind of show on Broadway or on film.
The other leads from Broadway, Victor Moore, Vera Zorina, and Irene Bordoni repeated their roles for the film and all did very well by them.
If this had been done as a serious drama, Hope's character would have been looking to cut a deal and turn state's witness on the others. He certainly wouldn't have gotten out of his troubles in quite the way he does in Louisiana Purchase.
Still fans of Bob Hope will appreciate the film and if people learn about the corruption in Louisiana in that period it might stimulate the more historically minded among viewers.
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