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

Director:

Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

This documentary chronicles the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. The difficult construction process is described in interesting detail; later parts of the film interview ... See full summary »

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Paul Roebling, Julie Harris, Arthur Miller
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Ken Burns examines the American utopian 19th century religious sect known as the Shakers.

Directors: Ken Burns, Amy Stechler
Stars: David McCullough
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Documentary showing the history of the world-famous Statue of Liberty in New York harbor.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: James Baldwin, Tucker Burr, Ray Charles
The Congress (TV Movie 1988)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The U. S. Congress is one of the country's most important and misunderstood institutions. Ken Burns tells the story behind this branch of government.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: David McCullough, Charles McDowell, Barbara Fields
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

For 50 years, radio dominated the airwaves as the first mass medium. Ken Burns examines the lives of three men who shared the responsibility for its invention and early success.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Jason Robards, Red Barber, Erik Barnouw
Mark Twain (TV Movie 2001)
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A biographical film about the acclaimed American humourist and author.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Keith David, Kevin Conway, Philip Bosco
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

A documentary that weaves together the stories of Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics.

Stars: Meryl Streep, Edward Herrmann, George Will
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A biography of the life and work of the American architect.

Directors: Ken Burns, Lynn Novick
Stars: Edward Herrmann, Philip Bosco, Julie Harris
Baseball (TV Mini-Series 1994)
Documentary | History | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.2/10 X  

A documentary on the history of the sport with major topics including Afro-American players, player/team owner relations and the resilience of the game.

Stars: John Chancellor, Daniel Okrent, Ossie Davis
Documentary | Biography | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

The story of Jack Johnson, the first African-American Heavyweight boxing champion.

Director: Ken Burns
Stars: Jack Johnson, Keith David, Samuel L. Jackson
The Dust Bowl (TV Mini-Series 2012)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A documentary about the 1930s drought of North American prairie farm land, and its consequences during the great depression.

Stars: Dorothy Williamson, Donald Worster, Timothy Egan
Jazz (TV Mini-Series 2001)
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A survey of the musical form's history and major talents.

Stars: Keith David, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet
Edit

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
Edit

Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 September 1985 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

See  »
Edit

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.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Ken Burns: America's Storyteller (2017) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
The Kingfish, Warts and Glory
24 July 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Huey Pierce Long never became President of the United States. He hoped to, and (probably for the best) a gunshot stopped him. I say probably because there is considerable debate over him to this day.

If you love democracy, with a balance of power approach as in the Federal Constitution (or the states for that matter) Long is an evil aberration. He used the normal methods of rising up the political ladder as a state railway commissioner, a state senator, Governor, and U.S. Senator. On his way up he found ways of reducing the opposition to a set of shrill, impotent voices, and of manipulating the state legislature, the judiciary, and the local governments to do what he wanted. For all intents and purposes Louisiana was a dictatorship under Huey. And once he got into the U.S. Senate, he planned to spread his influence until he was in the White House, and could do the same thing there.

Therefore, his death by gunshot in the state capital building at Baton Rouge, La. on September 18, 1935, was a lucky break. Whether he was shot by Dr. Carl Austin Weiss (the son-in-law of an opponent who'd been racially smeared by Long) or by a trigger happy guard who was joining in the shooting of Weiss does not matter - he would have been bad news for American Democracy.

But here's the problem. Huey did not come from a state that had a history of two party democracy. Most of the states in the south were dominated for decades by the Democratic Party (which was opposed to big business in theory, but also highly racist towards African-Americans and minorities). So when he studied how to get higher in office, he learned how his predecessors did it. He also noted the success of others in other states at turning them into fiefdoms - like Senator Hiram Johnson of California.

Secondly, although his methods were crude and resembled fascist or communist models, Huey actually did do a lot of good for his state. One has to study the man's career in light of previous Democrats who were elected to public office. Huey came from the parishes - the back country, and knew the needs of the farmers (both white, Cajun, and black), and how they were neglected in favor of the large cities, particularly New Orleans and Baton Rouge. He was smart, and managed to get a college education, and eventually became a lawyer (a very good one - he actually argued before the U.S. Supreme Court). The Governors and the legislators and the judiciary were extremely conservative (the popular term in use was "Bourbons"). Huey, as he built up his machine, delivered services, such as roads and highways and power, to the countryside. He also improved school conditions for the countryside.

While still willing to use racial slurs (as with Dr. Weiss's father-in-law) Huey actually got more jobs going for the African-American community. He could also display anti-Semitism when he wished, but when someone pointed out that when he did that he resembled Hitler, Huey became furious: "Don't ever compare me to that son-of-a-bitch!", he yelled, "Every fool whose ever gone against those people has wrecked his state's economy!!" Not a comment of love, but obviously of sense.

Huey was an opportunist. To raise revenues in Louisiana he invited Lucky Luciano to install one armed bandits throughout the state. But he also could sacrifice for reasonable grounds. He signed a law reducing the cotton production from Louisiana to build up prices for the cotton outside the state.

So he is not an easy figure to totally condemn or admire. Ken Burns documentary on "the Kingfish" (Huey used that name, based on a character on the radio show AMOS AND ANDY, for himself) gives a fairly good balanced view. Burns shows what was frighteningly close to happening, but he does show that Huey was more than a power seeker or a buffoon (as some enemies suggested). While not as detailed as the Burns documentaries on THE CIVIL WAR, JAZZ, or BASEBALL, it is a good place to start studying this remarkable political career.


5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?