I want to send a belated thanks to Judge Loomis for reviewing this film. It is a personal favorite and I can now retire the VHS that I copies from PBS's POV show from 1987. I still contend that Louie Bluie is not just a film but a national treasure, an Criterion should also be commended for its efforts in film preservation.
There are a few things that I should let you know about.
I saw the orginal film in Chicago in 1986. It was pretty rough and gritty then. When it originally aired on PBS in 1987, television did little to improve the quality. I have watched the DVD (but have not been through all of the extras), and modern technology, despite the degregation of the film, makes a world of difference. The DVD is like a revelation of one of my favorite films. Although the extras are great, there is somethings I wish were included.
The first is Terry Zwigoff's original opening for the POV show. They say money and fame changes everything and this opening is proof. Zwigoff is younger, but looks quite troubled. It is a brief opening, but he reveals he was near suicidal and making this film brought him out of depression. Just the comparison from the director then to his success today is quite revealing.
The second wish would have been the addition of the short film (also by PBS) called Sweet Old Song which caught up with Harold "Louie Bluie" Armstrong (shortly before his death in 2003) and his wife Barbara Ward.
I would encourage you to seek out Sweet Old Song if you are still interested in Harold Armstrong. It is not as well-crafted as Louie Bluie (its shot on video), but it is a nice finish to the life of Harold Armstrong. Get Sweet Old Song just to see a 91-year-old Armstong deliver a song on the mandolin while sitting on his gravestone. Priceless.