20 November 2011 | bkoganbing
The Kingfish of Louisiana
In current times that have a populist tone to them, the likes of which we've not seen since the Depression Thirties, a film about Huey P Long is good thing to view. It would be instructive to read and learn about Long and what he did in Louisiana it could happen again. For reading I recommend T. Harry Williams Pulitizer Prize winning biography of Long which I'm sure was the basis for a lot of this film, credited or not.
Long organized a political machine second to none in this country's history. The state of Louisiana was a personal fiefdom that he ruled over like a medieval duke. Opposition wasn't eliminated, it never was, but it was sure put in its place. One thing the film does not make clear was that while Long was Governor of Louisiana and had about a year or so for his term to run out he was elected to the US Senate for a term that would have begun March 4, 1931. But he and his Lieutenant Governor broke politically so rather than see this guy who was named James Noe take office, he simply never took the oath of office for US Senator. For a year he held both offices and Louisiana had for all intents and purposes one US Senator. Can you imagine the people of Louisiana putting up with that? I do so wish that was explored in the film.
But he built and modernized the state in many ways. He took on big oil and that would sure make him popular today. But as he said during the film 'he was the Constitution of the State of Louisiana'. Legal niceties weren't for Huey P. Long.
John Goodman does a fabulous job as Long who also took a lot of other liberties, personal ones. His doormat of a wife Ann Dowd played Rose McConnell Long who got a temporary appointment to fill Huey's seat after his demise. Their son Russell was elected to the US Senate in 1948 and served many decades. They are the only husband, wife, and child trio to serve in the US Senate.
Anne Heche's character is real, but her name is changed. It was really a woman named Alice Grossjean. Heche does well by the part. I imagine Alice's family would not given any consent to her real name being used.
Some really nice sets and period music capture the times of Huey Long. The life is in the capable hands of John Goodman and he delivers magnificently.