Louisiana Story

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Louisiana Story (1948) is a 78-minute black-and-white American film. Although the events and characters depicted are fictional, it is often misidentified as a documentary film. The script was written by Frances H. Flaherty and Robert J. Flaherty, and also directed by Robert J. Flaherty. It was commissioned by the Standard Oil Company. The story deals with the adventures of a young Cajun boy and his pet raccoon, who live a somewhat idyllic existence playing in the bayous of Louisiana.

The major plot involves his elderly father's allowing an oil company to drill for oil in the inlet that runs behind their house. A completely-assembled miniature oil rig on a slender barge is towed into the inlet from connecting narrow waterways. Although there is a moment of crisis when the rig strikes a gas pocket, most of this is dealt with swiftly and off-camera, and the barge, rig, and friendly drillers depart expeditiously, leaving behind a phenomenally clean environment and a wealthy Cajun family.[citation needed]

Another aspect of the plot is the presence of a giant alligator in the area, which is believed to have eaten the pet raccoon and is hunted in revenge.

The boy, named in the film as Alexander Napoleon Ulysses Le Tour but in the credits as the boy, was played by Joseph Boudreaux. The film was photographed by Richard Leacock and edited by Helen van Dongen, who were also the associate producers. Original release was through art film distributor Lopert Films Inc.

The film was shot on location in the Louisiana bayou country, using local residents for actors. However, none of the members of the Cajun family (boy, father and mother) were actually related, and the film does not in any aspect deal with Cajun culture or the reality of the hard lives of the Cajun people,[citation needed] nor with the mechanics of drilling for oil. The story itself is completely fictional. It is therefore unclear why, other than for publicity purposes, or out of respect to the then-near-forgotten Flaherty, the film was ever referred to as a documentary, much less why it continues to be.[citation needed] In the early 1950s, it was reissued by an exploitation film outfit with a new title, Cajun, on the bottom half of a double bill with another film called Watusi.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story in 1948. In 1949, Virgil Thomson won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his score to the film (which contains only one Cajun-styled piece). In 1994, Louisiana Story was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

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