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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
Be it fact or fiction, Blaze from 1989 stars Paul Newman as Governor Earl Long of Louisiana and Lolita Davidovich as his mistress, Blaze Starr.
Earl Long was Huey Long's brother, and his political life -- and his personal life -- were both tempestuous. Long was a supporter of civil rights and met much opposition. He had an affair with a stripper. His wife Blanche at one point had him committed, and after that, the two separated. He ran for office when he was nearly dead.
Long was an amazing man, and Paul Newman, as one might expect, does him justice - he's plain speaking, funny, rough around the edges, and likes a good time. When he goes to a strip joint and meets Blaze -- as the other women point out, Earl has met them all - he's smitten. Flaming red hair, a fabulous figure, and an imaginative entertainer -- she becomes part of his life.
The problem with the film is that it's too disjointed. It starts out as the story of Blaze, beginning when she leaves home to become a singer and winds up a stripper, and a well-known one at that. Frankly, I found Earl's story more interesting, and his character more dominant. It's Paul Newman after all, a powerful and charismatic actor, one of the best, if not the best, we had in film. Davidovich is sexy and loving as Blaze, but she doesn't have Newman's vivid presence.
According to some people, though Blaze and Earl got together in the last months of his life, she did not have the importance shown in the film. Did she love him? I'd say so. He left her $50,000 in his will and she refused to accept it. It seems obvious she made his last months on earth happy ones. As far as pushing him to run for office after his last hurrah, those in the know say it's not true. No way really to know
the film is based on Blaze's book.
This film could have been a lot better if it had focused on Earl Long totally and had Blaze in the film. Dividing the story did neither any good and slowed it up.
By the way, Blaze is at this writing 81 or so and designs some very nice jewelry. I suspect she's a very interesting woman.
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