Louie Bluie (1985)

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary, Music  |  October 1985 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 463 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 16 critic

About the obscure country-blues musician and idiosyncratic visual artist Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, member of the last known black string band in America.


Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

2 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crumb (1994)
Documentary | Biography | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An intimate portrait of the controversial cartoonist and his traumatized family.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Robert Crumb, Aline Kominsky, Charles Crumb
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Starting from childhood attempts at illustration, the protagonist pursues his true obsession to art school. But as he learns how the art world really works, he finds that he must adapt his vision to the reality that confronts him.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Max Minghella, Sophia Myles, John Malkovich
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

HARRY DEAN STANTON: PARTLY FICTION is a mesmerizing, impressionistic portrait of the iconic actor comprised of intimate moments, film clips from some of his 250 films and his own ... See full summary »

Director: Sophie Huber
Stars: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Sam Shepard
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A documentary on Henry Darger, visionary artist, janitor, and novelist.

Director: Jessica Yu
Stars: Henry Darger, Dakota Fanning, Larry Pine
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A documentary on DIY producer/director Roger Corman and his alternative approach to making movies in Hollywood.

Director: Alex Stapleton
Stars: Roger Corman, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Alan Moore writer, artist and performer is the world's most critically acclaimed and widely admired creator of comic books and graphic novels.

Directors: Dez Vylenz, Moritz Winkler
Stars: Glenn Doherty, Florian Fischer, Alan Moore
Documentary | Biography | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The life and work of the enigmatic folk rock singer-songwriter.

Director: John Scheinfeld
Stars: Gerry Beckley, Lee Blackman, Perry Botkin Jr.
Documentary | Biography | News
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

For three weeks in September 2008, one person was charged with preventing the collapse of the global economy. No one understood the financial markets better than Hank Paulson, the former ... See full summary »

Director: Joe Berlinger
Stars: Henry Paulson, Wendy Paulson

Falsely accused of a crime he didn't commit and forced under house arrest at his parent's home, Al Fishkin hatches a plan to clear his name.

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Stars: Fred Armisen

Moving to LA to pursue his film obsession, an oddball film fan bounces around the dregs of Hollywood trying to get work as an actor. His best friend is a young man whose interest in Edward ... See full summary »

Director: Terry Zwigoff

A man abandons his wife and children and checks into a rest home, where he bonds with a terminally ill woman with one special last wish.

Director: Terry Zwigoff

A man trapped in a marriage to a shrewish wife falls in love with a prostitute.

Director: Terry Zwigoff


Credited cast:
Howard Armstrong ...
Ted Bogan ...


About the obscure country-blues musician and idiosyncratic visual artist Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, member of the last known black string band in America.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Documentary | Music


Not Rated




Release Date:

October 1985 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

an auspicious, unusual, and musically alive debut movie
12 August 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's hard not to think back to Crumb and size that up to Terry Zwigoff's first feature documentary, about blues musician Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong (named so after a woman called him "Not *that* Louie Armstrong, just Louie 'Bluie'"). In part because one wants to size up how a director's career got started on a subject that seems as obscure as a blues musician only familiar to real blues fans, but also how the film is made in a similar style.

Zwigoff has close access to his subject here, as well as Armstrong's long-time friend and fellow blues musician Ted Bogan (the two of them alternate on various guitar and string instruments), so much so that one almost forgets that he's making a documentary from time to time as he takes the 'fly on the wall' approach. He's in the room, and we know the camera is there, but the people talk and act like no one is in the slightest. One scene shows Howard and Ted talking about pants and how Ted's former drunkenness was preferable to how Howard looks at Ted now, "like a hypocrite". It's a small scene, but it shows how deep a friendship the two have that he can tell Ted off and it be like shooting the breeze, and how close Zwigoff can get to the people on camera.

Of course it being about a blues musician, one expects the music. It's here that the film really lights up, showcasing Louie Bluie playing alongside Ted and other musicians. One of the revelatory pieces in the documentary- that is not just for him but other African-American musicians from his time period (by that I mean the 30s through the 50's in the South and Mid-West and so on)- is that Country music was often something that they had to play, and enjoyed playing. We see that Armstrong plays as mean a fiddle as one might ever see, but not only that but even more unexpected kinds of music, like German songs. He goes beyond traditional blues, and even Country, into some kind of idiosyncratic muddle ground that is delightful to listen and to just see unfold on stage or in a small, intimate setting like a living room.

And Armstrong, on camera, is just one of those magnetic, funny kinds of presences. He's down to earth and funny, sometimes disarmingly so in that kind of bragging way blues musicians have (he talks about bedding all ages of women, and they asking him sometimes how old he is: "'How old am I?' 'You want my birth certificate?', he recalls). He's an all- around artist that paints and draws (as in Crumb we get close-up pictures of his illustrations, as unconventional and truthful in a harrowing way as R. Crumb had) and has poetry, and when it comes time to talk about the given racism and discrimination that was rampant in the South at the time, there's some fascination that goes past the usual; one learns, for example, how black musicians would learn and speak immigrant languages to circumvent the racism.

If there are any slight issues it's that the movie is almost too short, being at 60 minutes (it says 75 on IMDb, though the Criterion DVD lists it as only for this), and one can tell how extremely low the budget is by the times, even in this sparkling transfer, how out-of-focus some of the shots are, how it could only be grabbed one time and with little light sources. But for any blues aficionado, or a newcomer, such as both of the main characters Steve Buscemi and Thora Birch would play in Zwigoff's own Ghost World, it's the find of the year, or years, being that it's been virtually unavailable since its limited release in 1985 (except for $100 a pop for bad VHS copies on Amazon).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
DVD please! chrisw-3
Louie Blue Video Search sjjulian
Discuss Louie Bluie (1985) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page