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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
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I had an uncle. He got drunk. He went to the colored section down in Winnfield. He pulled this nigger out of bed and crawled in with the woman. The nigger went out, got a rifle, came back. He killed my uncle. I'm tellin' you, we gotta quit sleeping with 'em at night and kicking 'em in the day.
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Be it fact or fiction, Blaze from 1989 stars Paul Newman as Governor
Earl Long of Louisiana and Lolita Davidovich as his mistress, Blaze
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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