Cast & Crew
Governor Jimmie Davis
Fourteen-year-old James Houston Davis, the music-loving son of a poor sharecropper, is determined to get a good education and help improve life in his beloved state of Louisiana. With the help of his self-sacrificing parents, Jimmie graduates from Beech Springs High School and is accepted at Louisiana College. After financing his way through college by working odd jobs and selling songs he has written, Jimmie graduates with a B.A. and returns to teach at Beech Springs High. A year later, he enrolls at Louisiana State University and earns a master's degree. He then becomes a history and social sciences professor at the all-female Dodd College in Shreveport. There, he meets Charlie Mitchell, a jazz band leader, who, recognizing Jimmie's musical talent, tricks him into agreeing to sing one of his songs on his radio show. Sure that Jimmie will be a hit, Charlie connives to increase the small station's broadcast range, and Jimmie's performance is heard all the way to Alaska. Jimmie's singing is also heard at Dodd, and the college's understanding but traditional president, Dr. M. E. Dodd, reluctantly asks Jimmie to choose between teaching and music. Urged by both Charlie and Alvern Adams, an intelligent young woman whom Charlie has introduced to Jimmie, to pursue his singing career, Jimmie resigns from Dodd. Soon after, Jimmie marries Alvern and, while still singing and composing, takes a job as the court clerk of Shreveport. Jimmie is then asked to run for police commissioner of Shreveport. Although Jimmie is wary of entering politics, Alvern persuades him that he is the best man for the job. Uncomfortable with speech-making, Jimmie sings with his band during his rallies and easily wins the election. Immediately afterward, Tomlins, a Shreveport racketeer, tries to bribe Jimmie into allowing him to continue his illegal gaming activities, but Jimmie refuses. Jimmie then leads a series of raids against Tomlins, and the racketeer is eventually sentenced to a two-year prison term. His leadership abilities recognized, Jimmie is asked to run as the state's public service commissioner and wins. At the same time, Jimmie and Charlie's tune "You Are My Sunshine" is recorded by Bing Crosby and becomes a nationwide hit. To celebrate Jimmie's hefty royalty check, Jimmie, Alvern and Charlie, who is now Jimmie's campaign manager, go to an elegant restaurant in New Orleans, and there, Jimmie is approached by political boss Fred Astor. Astor and the state political machine offer Jimmie the nomination for governor, as well as $100,000, but Jimmie, fearing corruption, declines the offer. Alvern urges Jimmie to run for governor as an independent, but he is sure he will be defeated by Astor's machine and refuses. Alvern's disappointment in his decision causes Jimmie to return home to Beech Springs and seek the advice of his father. After Mr. Davis counsels his son to run for governor if he desires the honor of the office more than the greed, Jimmie announces his candidacy. As Jimmie grows more and more popular around the state, Astor and his candidate, Leonard Herman, grow more and more nervous. Hoping to find something scandalous from his past, Astor orders an investigation into Jimmie's background. When that search yields nothing, Herman plays an old, somewhat risque record of Jimmie's, "Bang, Bang," during one of his rallies. Instead of being outraged by the song, the crowd cheers and begins dancing to the music. The day of the election is plagued by severe rainstorms, and Jimmie, whose main support is in the state's rural areas, fears defeat. Despite the inclement weather, Jimmie's supporters make their way to the polls, and Jimmie wins by a landslide.
Governor Jimmie Davis
Lee "lasses" White
Billie Jean Eberhart
Raymond Boltz Jr.
Henry Thacker Burleigh
Edward J. Kay
Zilner Trenton Randolph
Stars on the Shreveport, La. premiere junket of "Louisiana" included Gale Storm, June Preisser, John Gallaudet, Roddy McDowall, Freddie Stewart, Dottye Brown (a Shereveport girl in her first film) and producer 'Parsons, Lindsay' .
The following written statement appears at the end of the film: "In presenting the life of Governor Davis, great care has been taken to preserve authenticity with respect to characters and events dealing with his early life. Insofar as possible, many scenes were photographed in their natural settings and all of the exterior scenes were photographed in the State of Louisiana. Except for members of the family of Governor Davis, Charlie Mitchell, John McCormack, Judge David B. Samuels, Dr. M. E. Dodd, all persons portrayed in Louisiana and all references to political parties and events concerning them are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or political parties and events is unintentional and co-incidental."
As depicted in the film, Jimmie Davis was born in rural Louisiana in 1900, the son of a poor sharecropper and one of eleven children. He was educated at Louisiana College and Louisiana State University and became a professor at Dodd College, performing as a country singer on the side. In the mid-1930s, he signed a recording deal with Decca Records and became a popular radio entertainer in Shreveport, LA. In the early 1940s, Davis appeared in several western movies, including Universal's 1942 film Strictly in the Groove and Columbia's 1943 picture Frontier Fury, in which he performed with his band, the Singing Buckaroos (see entry above). After serving as Shreveport's police commissioner as well as Louisiana's controller, Davis was elected governor in 1944, and held the office until 1948. As portrayed in the film, he was known for his unconventional, folksy campaigning techniques, which included singing at rallies. He returned to entertaining in the late 1940s, appearing in the 1949 Monogram film Mississippi Rhythm , and became a leading gospel singer in the 1950s. In 1960, he was re-elected to a second four-year term as governor of Louisiana. Monogram publicity for Louisiana boasted that Davis was the only seated governor ever to star in a motion picture.
Voice-over narration is heard intermittently throughout the film. Although the Daily Variety review lists "Li'l David, Play on Your Harp" and "All Aboard for Louisiana" as songs performed in the picture, they were not included in the viewed print. Alan Edwards is listed in copyright materials in the role of "Nielson," but onscreen credits list Joseph Crehan in that part. Hollywood Reporter news items add Cleo Ridgley, John O'Connor, Gladys Blake, June Frazer and Dick Alexander to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.