Paul Newman's Best Comedy Jan 14, 2010
While this movie is not one of Paul Newman's best known, it absolutely is one of his best. No Paul Newman fan should miss this. I believe he also does his best character work in this film, playing the colorful Earl Long, governor of Louisiana. Earl Long is adept at the game of politics in the segregated south.
He rides in his big old cadillac visiting his constituants. He buys merchandise from the shop owners in one small town and gives it away to the people in the next town and buys some more merchandise. Every single person he meets, he shakes their hand and says, "Vote for Earl!"
Earl loves carousing in strip clubs, where he meets Blaze Starr. Blaze is played by Lolita Davidovitch with sincerity and dignity. How a good girl from the hills of WV ends up in a strip club is a good funny story in itself. There is a very funny love scene between them where he has some difficulty and he proclaims, "I'm just like a Ford, slow to start but once I get go'in..."
What I really like about this movie is that even though the characters are an outlandish politician and a stripper with a heart of gold, it is never trite and the characters have personal depth.There are no stereotypes. I disagree that it is a comic strip type movie. Nothing could be further than the truth.
While racial issues weave throughout the film, it is done so skillfuly, one does not feel you've been hit over the head with a Message. It is facinating how Earl works the political system to benefit the black man while still being able to preserve his own political hide. He is much smarter than he appears.There is a showdown at the state legislature where Earl is thrown out and thrown in a mental asylum by political opponents.
He gets out of the asylum with Blaze's help and some brilliant political manuvering. The opposition tried to smear him by calling him crazy. He responds "No I'm not and I've got the papers to prove it!"
I've watched the movie several times just because it's so enjoyable. I am in my 50's and my daughters are in their early 20's and they love it too.To me that makes it a classic film.