Wednesday, July 6, 2011

bad/awesome flixxx review: White Lightning (1973)

"How'd you like that knife shoved up yer ass?"- Gator

"I'm so hungry I could eat the tail-end out of a hobby-horse."- Roy

"Only two things in the world I'm scared of...Women and the police.- Gator

Whenever we start talking about Burt Reynolds movies and Gator comes up, my old man always sticks to his guns that White Lightning is the better flick. Less well known than its sequel "Gator", White Lightning is a fast-paced, car chasin', ass-kickin', moonshine movie set in the late 60s/early 70s south, when the government was chasing down at the bootleggers for not paying their taxes. It reminds me of my early childhood, as the south didn't change much from the early 70s thru the late 80s. As a matter of fact it was pretty much slow going thru the 90s as well. Anyway, with characters that hit close to home, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Diane Ladd, and the uncredited debut of baby Laura Dern star in WHITE LIGHTNING!!!

Gator McClusky has been serving his time in the state penn for his 3rd offense of running moonshine. All is well and good in the penn, and Gator has one year left, until his cousin comes to bring him some bad news. A few counties over in Bogan county, A crooked sheriff (Beatty) has killed his little brother and one of his friends for unknown reasons. Gator lays down to think about it, then beats a guard and escapes. Caught within the hour, the warden, a friendly dude who generally likes Gator (everyone seems to) tells him he should just cool out and serve his last year easy. But Gator is pissed and decides to make a deal with the feds.

Gator has the feds come in, and makes a deal with them that he can actually get the goods on this crooked sheriff who is taking bribes from known bootleggers, and is under investigation for several other homicides. The feds hook him up with a badass 1971 Ford Custom 500 to run the booze, and set him on his way. Gator visits his parents, then sets out to meet up with "Dude" a mechanic known to make deliveries around town, but who is on probation. Blackmailed by Gator, Dude reluctantly helps him get a job "blocking" for Roy, a bigtime runner in Bogan.

Gator has Dude mess up Roy's car so that he has to use his to do the deliveries and therefore meet the man who is making the shine, Big Bear. Big Bear doesn't trust Gator from the beginning, but uses him anyway. Gator, Roy, and Lou (Roy's cheating chick) go about running the shine. Lou gives Gator some "jiggle-puddin'' placing a rift between Gator and Roy. The scenes are dripping with the sweat on everyone's brows making it authentically hot as hell, and the subtle and sometimes not so subtle hints of racism, anti-hippism, and marijuana vs moonshine make the film very authentic, not to mention the ridiculous fisticuffs and super long, edge of your seat car chases. Killer stuff.

Pretty soon, the sheriff's lawyer finds out that Gator is working for the feds, and he starts messing with Dude, almost raping Dude's wife, messing with his folks, and setting up a trap at Big Bear's catching Gator but for only a moment, again, almost allowing the deputies to rape Lou. Gator gets the best of them though, escaping, hurt, but not dead, and finally ends up with a knock down drag-out car chase ending. At LEAST a 9 out of 10. This movie is pure awesome. Find it. Burt Reynolds laugh alone is worth watching the whole movie. Cheers.

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