Monday, November 22, 2010

213. Louisiana Story (1948)

Running Time: 78 minutes
Directed By: Robert J. Flaherty
Written By: Frances H. Flaherty, Robert J. Flaherty
Main Cast: Joseph Boudreaux, Lionel Le Blanc, E. Bienvenu, Frank Hardy

200!

Well I have finally hit the 200 marker and after the viewing of just one more film, I'll be all ready to put together my TOP 20. For #200, I chose "Louisiana Story", because it was on my Netflix streaming queue and it was short. Actually I didn't really expect much out of Flaherty's "Louisiana Story", despite liking his "Nanook of the North", but I got more than I bargained for.

Apparently the story goes that Robert J. Flaherty was contacted by Standard Oil Company to make a film about oil prospecting in the Louisiana bayous. The story is told through the eyes of a young cajun boy (Boudreaux), who along with his pet raccoon, spends his days drifting out on the
Louisiana waterways, playing, fishing and fending off alligators. When returning home one day, his father is talking with an oil man and signing a contract allowing them to drill on his property. Soon after, the oil company comes in, sets up a derrick and begins drilling. The boy takes kindly to the oil men, becoming friendly with them as he shows them some of his tips for catching fish (spitting on the bait is apparently a great tool for fishing). The plot flows along nicely, despite not a lot happening and the big finish comes when the oil crew hits a gas pocket, sending gas and salt water spewing out of the earth, but most of that is dealt with through newspaper headlines that come across the screen. The crisis is quickly taken care of, as the oil men are painted as heroes, who get the gas spill taken care of in the matter of ten days, finish off their work and make their way out of the bayou.

With the BP oil spill still fresh in our minds, it's kind of hard to take this film seriously. The oil men in "Louisiana Story" are painted as capable and smart drillers, who know how to handle a crisis, if/when one arises. Of course, the entire story is told through the eyes of a young boy, so that could account for some of the grandeur that the oil men are painted with and hey, maybe the oil men of those days weren't as incapable as the oil men of today, I don't know.

The film was actually, surprisingly good, for what it was. Flaherty made seemingly meaningless tasks and activities interesting and sometimes suspenseful. I loved the scene where the boy nearly gets his head bitten off by an alligator and the music and sounds that accompany it are quite effective. Later, they boy loses his pet raccoon and can only assume that he was eaten by a gator. He enlists the help of his father and together they trap and kill the alligator, not forgetting to row by the oil derrick and show the oil men their big catch. I would say, in regards to this film, don't go in expecting much and the payoff will be bigger than you'd imagine. I was expecting next to nothing from "Louisiana Story" and actually walked away from a fairly interesting, nicely photographed and well scored film.

RATING: 6/10 Just one more movie to go before the big TOP 20 and trust me, I realize no one is as excited for this milestone as much as I am.

MOVIES WATCHED: 200
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 801

November 22, 2010 1:13pm

3 comments:

  1. I thought the father in the film looked a little like Hal Halbrook.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A dissapointment. One of my R1 imports, and not cheap, I was expecting something great from this, which is exactly the point you make.
    I guess I need to revisit it in the future.
    Ray

    ReplyDelete
  3. A prime example of something that had no business being included in the book. It just wasn't that good, wasn't memorable and wasn't anything that MUST be seen. I can think of twenty replacements right off the top of my head that should've had the "Louisiana Story" spot.

    ReplyDelete

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