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Huey Long (1985)

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


Ken Burns
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Huey Long Huey Long ... Self (archive footage)
Russell Long Russell Long ... Self (as Russell B. Long)
David McCullough ... Narrator
Jennings Randolph ... Self - Senator of West Virginia
Arthur Schlesinger Jr. ... Self
I.F. Stone I.F. Stone ... Self
Robert Penn Warren ... Self


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

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Narrator: In 1932, two years after he was elected to the Senate, his hand-picked slate swept the state wide election. The new governor-elect was Oscar "Okay" Allen, a boyhood friend. And so agreeable, according to Long's younger brother Earl, that when a leaf blew onto his desk one morning, Allen signed it.
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Featured in Ken Burns: America's Storyteller (2017) See more »

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Good guy? Bad guy? Commie? Dictator? Depends on whom you talk to
2 October 2011 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Ken Burns gives us as detailed a picture of "Huey Long" as he could in the time permitted, but I'm sure there was much more fascinating material that he had to leave out.

Long was one of the most complex, loved, and hated politicians of his day - sometimes all at once. A sturdy-looking man who became governor of Louisiana and later Senator, Long was a gifted speaker and thinker who could certainly cast a spell on people. And the people who loved him were the poor. Long did a great deal for the unemployed, undereducated, and underfed of that state. He was a populist with tinges of socialism that had tinges of communism. He was a great proponent of a "Share the Wealth" program in which money earned over a certain amount had to be paid to the people. It's a twist on Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge, in which billionaires pledge at least 50% of their wealth to philanthropy when they die.

The problem with Long, according to this documentary, is that he became greedy for more and more power and then misused his power. For instance, while he was in the Senate, he was still running the state with a puppet governor. His final goal was the White House, but somebody finally bumped him off in 1935. Many of FDR's New Deal plans, however, are often attributed to his attempts to "steal Long's thunder." Long was against big oil and their profits, and opposed the National Recovery Act as a sellout to big business.

This documentary, which has footage of Long speaking, interviews with citizens of Louisiana, political scholars, etc., shows that Long had some excellent ideas and in a way was ahead of his time - but he believed the end justified the means and went about getting what he wanted at any cost. Still, some of his ideas have merit and seem pretty timely to me.

A really fascinating documentary.

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Release Date:

28 September 1985 (USA) See more »

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Production Co:

Florentine Films, RKB See more »
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