Ken Burns' portrait of Louisiana governor/U.S. senator Huey Long.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Huey Long ...
Himself (archive footage)
Russell Long ...
Himself (as Russell B. Long)
David McCullough ...
Narrator
Jennings Randolph ...
Himself - Senator of West Virginia
...
Himself
I.F. Stone ...
Himself
...
Himself
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Ken Burns' portrait of Louisiana governor/U.S. senator Huey Long.

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28 September 1985 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

Quotes

Huey Long: I have the pleasure to undertake to describe to you--
[A photographer's flashbulb explodes with a loud bang and a flash. A long pause and laughter from all.]
Huey Long: Now you see there? That bomb didn't explode until tonight.
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Solid documentary, but not "classic"
1 February 2003 | by (Rochester, NY) – See all my reviews

There were some excellent little touches to this film: Robert Penn Warren's interview, great video of Huey speaking, interviews with rural Louisiana folks who still love Huey, and even a great Randy Newman song during the title credits. That being said, the documentary was missing a few things that have already been mentioned. I think the main problem is that Huey's life was so incredible and packed with material, that it was hard to whittle it down to 90 minutes. Burns is usually known for these epic, multi-part documentaries (which I usually think are a bit too much), but in this case, Huey's life deserved such treatment! This could have easily been a four-part, eight-hour documentary.

I also think the documentary would have been stronger had it been made ten years later, after new details emerged about Huey's assassination. True, Burns wouldn't have gotten to interview Robert Penn Warren and some of the other people now in the film, but I think more material would have been available for Burns, and he might have considered making the film longer.

As far as the content, it was amazing to see the different views on Long: the old-timers living in the rural parts of the state still loved Huey, as opposed to the old anti-Longs who said they were happy at his assassination! I think these interviews, while not directly having to do with the facts surrounding Long's life, were a great indication of the powerful spell Huey cast on people, whether they loved him or hated him. The legend lives on.

All in all, a strong documentary, but leaves the audience wanting more.


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