Made for cable, this biographical film feels like a labor of love on the part of star John Goodman, who proves once again that his considerable talents are not limited merely to situation comedy.
KINGFISH depicts Huey Long as a charismatic speaker whose tireless campaigning and unsinkable loyalty to the working class fueled his climb up the political ladder. Beginning as a railroad commissioner in 1919, it took the wily Long just nine years to oust the governor of Louisiana, then move on to Washington as that state's senator. Along the way, the Kingfish (as Long dubbed himself) assembled a fearsome political machine that threatened even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt--and with good reason, for Long saw himself as the man who could steal the Democratic vote from FDR in the
upcoming presidential race. Counterpointing Long's singleminded political ambition is his divided love life, split between his neglected yet loyal wife and his politically savvy mistress, Aileen DuMont (whom, at one point, Long appoints Louisiana's Secretary of State). In the end, the Kingfish's
voracious appetite for power destroys him, and he is shot in the halls of the state capital by the son-in-law of a political rival.
As the only A-list actor in an otherwise competent but forgettable cast, the burden of carrying KINGFISH falls squarely on Goodman's shoulders. Luckily, he rises to the occasion, imbuing the politician with the right combination of likability, ferocity, and hubris to justify his vast array of both
enemies and supporters. Add to the mixture Goodman's role as producer and it becomes clear that he is the fulcrum upon which the success of the film rests. Fortunately, he is assisted by veteran feature director Thomas Schlamme (MISS FIRECRACKER, SO I MARRIED AN AXE MURDERER), who keeps Goodman's
leash just short enough to prevent the star from going overboard. All told, KINGFISH is a satisfying look at the kind of political playmaking whose echoes can still be heard today. (Violence, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: Made for cable, this biographical film feels like a labor of love on the part of star John Goodman, who proves once again that his considerable talents are not limited merely to situation comedy. KINGFISH depicts Huey Long as a charismatic speaker whose… (more)