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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 »


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


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated






Release Date:

28 September 1985 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Florentine Films, RKB See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?


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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User Reviews

A Complex Titan
28 November 2001 | by sfuserSee all my reviews

Ken Burns is properly regarded for the outstanding quality of his documentaries. This early work shows the exceptional qualities that would lead to better-known later works like "The Civil War", "Baseball" and "Jazz".

Burns examines Huey Long, Louisiana's Kingfish. Long rose from poverty and became one of the most powerful leaders in the nation's history. Long was an outstanding orator, hero of the common people, advocate of big government, revolutionary political strategist, and totalitarian. Utilizing corrupt practices that had been common in Louisiana since the end of Reconstruction, Long built a political machine that constructed thousands of miles of roads, hundreds of bridges, and millions of school books (every child, black or white, received free textbooks). Long's tenure provided much delayed lasting benefits for regular people in the midsts of the depression.

Secret police were used at first to thwart the illegal efforts of major business efforts opposed to his tax-and-spend programs, and later the political vendetta of his national political opponents, including fellow-Democrat FDR, who dubbed him the "the most dangerous man in America". And yes, his secret police did what secret police do.

Among Long's national causes was the development of Social Security. Long's "Share-Our-Wealth" clubs had millions of members, distributed weekly papers, had weekly radio addresses, and elected many political candidates (including the first woman Senator elected to a full term in her own right, Arkansas' Hattie Caraway in 1932). Huey reputedly planned to run against Roosevelt in 1936 as a leftist third-party candidate, and expected to throw the election to the Republicans, clearing the way for his own 1940 election. Instead, Huey was assassinated in 1935, and largely forgotten outside of his home state.

Long is a truly significant national figure from a pivotal time. He cannot be understood without considering his accomplishments, the force of his enemies and the conditions of 1920's and 1930's Louisiana in addition to Huey's terrible flaws and dangerous corruption. Films don't have much time, but Ken Burns manages to balance all of these issues, presenting a lyric, intimate tale.

You doubt me? You haven't even heard about the "deduct box". Check it out.

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