User ReviewsReview this title
I watched Blaze again last night and must say it is an underrated movie. Paul Newman's acting is superb. He should have gotten an Oscar for his portrayal of Earl Long. Lolita Davidovich is charming as stripper Blaze Starr. We all understand that movies stray from the facts for comedic purposes and dramatic effect. After all, how many of us care about Louisana politics in the 20th century. We are looking for an entertaining flick! Fact is, both Earl and Blaze were married when they met. When Earl died in 1960, he was the Democratic nominee for Congress but had not been elected. He left Blaze Starr $50,000 in his will which she refused to accept. There is not a dull moment in this film. It is one of my favorites.
This is one great movie. It is called "Blaze", not "Earl", because it is mostly from the point of view of Blaze Starr, stage name of a West Virginia country girl who became a New Orleans stripper. What was not mentioned in this movie is that Earl was married to Blanche while he was having his affair with Starr, and it in fact was Blanche that got him committed. Blaze Starr herself has a small part in the movie.
Long was governor on three different occasions, his last term being 1956 through 1960. This movie is set during the last year of his last term. Paul Newman is Earl Long, and was about the same age as Long while making this movie. As always, Newman creates a memorable character, really bringing Earl K Long to life.
Lolita Davidovich, who put on a few extra pounds to play the busty Blaze Starr , is also about the right age and plays Starr superbly. In fact, watching her in this movie, it is hard to figure why she hasn't become a bigger star.
SPOILERS. Even though hospitalized, Long was still governor. So he fired the head of the Mandeville Mental Hospital, appointed his friend to the post, and was promptly declared fit to return to normal life. Unable to run again for Governor, he tried running as Leutenant Governor with Noe, but they did not win. So he ran for US Congress, narrowly won while sick, and died a week after his victory, in September 1960. The movie depicts his dying in Blaze Starr's arms on the day he was elected, but that is movie-making license.
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.
Footnote: Earl K. Long should not be confused with his older and more flamboyant brother also governor of Louisiana, Huey P. Long, who was assassinated.
I'll be brief. No need to go through the plot, as many others have already done here; if you've made your way down to this review, you've got the gist of it. 2 characters, from very different worlds, established very early on as equals, both as human beings and as masters in the art of manipulation: Blaze Starr, "exotic dancer," & Earl Long, "good ol' boy" US Southern Democratic politician. The story here is in how they each apply the art: first, in their individual lives; and then, as a team, in the process changing the faces of American politics and media.
Never learned the actual history; makes me want to look it up to find out how many specific scenes are real. One that I sure hope is:
"I have a confession to make... "I can't cook."
"We'll work around it."
almost exactly, an exchange between me & my wife before we were married.
What more can I ask from a movie? P.S. We did. And I haven't gone hungry.
I can't blame the actors so my best guess is Director Ron Shelton. He wrote the screenplay for this and has the distinction of directing the only sports movies I ever disliked - all of his! This guy's resume of bad movies is brutal. Look it up!
You could see Paul Newman really relished playing Louisiana Governor Earl K. "Huey" Long, who was scandalized after it was divulged he was having an affair with the notorious stripper, Blaze Starr, played well by newcomer Lolita Davidovich. Some think Davidovich stole the movie from Newman, but I don't know if I would go that far.
However, to me, this was another Newman movie that was overly profane in the language department, a little over-the-top in a performance and just lacking something that made me care about the characters. Starr was portrayed as someone you liked, admittedly, but when has Hollywood not made a stripper or prostitute look good? Newman's role as the flipped-out governor was overacted. One thing, though: Paul Newman is never boring whoever he's playing.
I like movies about eccentric characters but this film just had too sleazy a look and feel for me to enjoy it. In the end, who better to blame than Shelton? This just wasn't the appealing story it should have been.
Newman (as Long) dominates the proceedings as a scoundrel of a politician that y'all are gonna love. His political opponents are totally against his support for Civil Rights - and his supporters are dubious too. His relationship with Starr doesn't exactly help his political chances. The politics alone, with Starr more in the background, could have made for an intense movie. Starr arrives on the scene as a leading light in the New Orleans strip joints (although quite how she makes the leap from nervous, reluctant stripper to top of the bill is omitted). Once they get together the film loses direction, not knowing whether to delve more deeply into the politics or whether to lighten the presentation by concentrating on the relationship. Some scenes seem to be included primarily so that some cute jokes can be kept in the script - `meet my yes men and their wives' is an example of a scene that doesn't add much to depth, but seems to be there for the laugh. Overall Shelton leans to the light touch and the whole ends up begging more questions than it answers.
The film does acknowledge the changing times of the late 1950s and the advent of a more liberal society. Long foresees the advent of a successful Civil Rights movement, whilst Starr sees a future where strippers will be required to remove their G-strings. But overall this is a lost opportunity, concentrating on the veneer of a not-too-convincing relationship at the expense of a greater expose. In short Shelton should have removed the political G-string.
Paul Newman is really chewing up this role. Lolita Davidovich is a fiery redhead. These are great characters. The story and how it's played out isn't the most compelling. This needs more tension in the drama. Earl is a wild character but he's not particularly funny. These are good performances but the drama could be more intense. It's a bit too long and has a bit too much filler.
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.
The film is a comic-strip re-telling of the curious late-1950s relationship between famed striptease artist Blaze Starr and Lousiana governor Earl Long. Their romance is counterbalanced with the story of Long's efforts to win voting rights for Louisiana's black citizens. The governor's political enemies ruin his chances at re-election, then try to put him out of the way permanently with a trumped-up insanity charge. But with faithful Blaze at his side, Long confounds his foes by winning a congressional seat. On the eve of this triumph, Earl Long dies, bringing this boisterous story to a sobering conclusion.
This is noted mostly for the offbeat casting of Paul Newman.He was at his best here.His performance elevates the film into higher levels.Watch it for him alone.
The character arc or Blaze Starr is developed way too swiftly. In the first 10 minutes, she's this nice little small town gal who lives a healthy Christian life and has a passion for folk music. She gets on stage once, at first (very briefly) getting offended by the booing soldiers who want her to "take it off," and suddenly in that one little striptease she feels liberated? By the 10-minute mark, she's already this sultry, vanity-stricken stripper who gallops at any chance to show off her body to libidinous males. Hell, Elizabeth Berkeley had a more extensive character arc in "Showgirls." I can fathom the change in Blaze Starr's character. I just wanna know the steps in how those changes occurred, because I'm pretty damn sure they didn't occur so swiftly. I've seen several movies with Lolita Davidovich, and she's not a bad actress. She never blew me away with any particular performance, but I never had any negative criticisms about her. Well, this was Davidovich's first movie and...it pretty much shows. Though her character was written poorly, her cartoonish one-note performance doesn't help much. She never properly expresses the humanistic values of her character, and doesn't portray herself as much more than a dirty slut.
Paul Newman's character of Earl Long wasn't written very well, and doesn't give the audience very much to sympathize with, but he plays it out the best he can. His energetic performance is about the only reason to check out this overlooked dud. But as I said, his character is written poorly and about all we learn about him is he's a dirty old man with psychological problems. The only good thing we learn about him is his persistence in awarding voting rights to African-Americans, and allowing them to be doctors. But I can see exactly why he was struggling to be re-elected as governor. I sure as hell wouldn't vote for him! That's not a good sign. Even when creating a character who's not perfectly sympathetic (which I have nothing wrong with) you must be able to express his/her good values effectively, even if it's done with subtlety.
The country/western folk songs are a bit of a turn-off (at least to me), but I'm not gonna use that against the overall quality of the movie. After all, it is set in Louisiana. "Blaze" is not a terrible film, it's mildly entertaining, but I wanted to know a lot more about these 2 characters (even if the movie went on for 2 1/2 hours) and what resulted was no more than a throwaway comedy/drama. See it only for Newman's terrific performance.
My score: 5 (out of 10)