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This movie tells the story of the latter years of Earl Long, a flamboyant governor of Louisiana. The aging Earl, an unapologetic habitue of strip joints, falls in love with young stripper Blaze Starr. When Earl and Blaze move in together, Earl's opponents use this to attack his controversial political program, which included civil rights for blacks in the 1950's. Can Earl keep Blaze and retain control of the state? Written by
I'm happy the film Blaze came out if for no other reason than Earl Long finally got his place in film history beside his more famous brother Huey. Earl spent a lot more years in public office and maybe no man ever enjoyed just campaigning for office and the trappings thereof when elected.
I was a mere lad, but I do remember Earl's tumultuous and final term as Governor of Louisiana. The stuff you see here about Earl Long, the relationship with stripper Blaze Starr and the rest, was big news back in the day. One of the reasons that Earl could not do what George C. Wallace did was that Wallace had a most compliant first wife in Lurleen Wallace. One character we do not see here was his wife and later widow Blanche. Long was very much married at the time all of his antics were front page news, it was Blanche in fact who had him shipped to the funny farm.
Just as Blanche Long is eliminated from this story so is United States Senator Russell B. Long, son of Huey. Russell Long, who was barely the minimal 30 years old, was appointed by his uncle who happened to be Governor at the time to the U.S. Senate following the death of John H. Overton was still in the Senate when Uncle Earl's antics was big and embarrassing news. Russell Long served in the Senate for over 40 years and unlike his father and uncle became a most powerful Senator through his patient rise up the seniority ladder.
Even without Blanche and Russell, Earl Long's affair with Blaze Starr is the basis of a fine motion picture. Lolita Davidovitch is a warm and earthy Blaze Starr, a Loretta Lynn/Patsy Cline type from West Virginia without their talent. Still she might not have sung, but the woman had one fine figure. And when she pointed those glockenspiels of mass destruction at Earl Long, he was cooked. Imagine watermelon as an aphrodisiac?
Paul Newman does very well indeed as the irascible old governor just hanging on despite physical and mental problems. Today Earl Long might have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease or as some have speculated with bi-polar disorder. He might have been given the proper medication.
If Blaze has a fault and it's a big one, it's the lack of secondary character development. We don't really get to know about any of the other people in the Earl and Blaze story.
But we do get to know Earl and Blaze. And if Earl K. Long was indeed bi-polar and been given the proper medication, we might have never have had this story or this film.
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