In the late '50s, Louisiana governor Earl K Long (brother of Huey) scandalised voters when news broke of his affair with stripper Blaze Starr. In what is essentially a vehicle for Paul Newman, Long comes over as gangling eccentric and political visionary: he keeps his boots on while love-making, and at a time of entrenched prejudice approves voting rights for blacks. While opponents plot his abduction. supporters applaud his outspokenness. The film's overall tone is light, and against this Newman cuts an imposing, vigorous figure. But Ron Shelton's script is inconsistent. Co-star Davidovich attempts a sympathetic rendering of Blaze Starr, but her role is underdeveloped; given that the central relationship prevails over the political agenda, it's an oversight which leaves dialogue one-sided and often toothless. Considering the awareness of post-Watergate audiences, it's not enough merely to portray a gutsy, glitzy couple who both, by Starr's definition, work in 'showbiz'. The film has a certain candour, but it would have been enhanced by a less superficial approach.
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