Monday, September 14, 2009

White Lightning (1973)

Directed by Joseph Sargent. I've been seeing Burt Reynolds movies lately to observe his gradual descent into madness. My theory is that the Grecian Formula leaked into his scalp and attacked essential regions of cerebral cortex sometime after "White Lightning" but long before "Sharky's Machine" (1981), very likely starting some time during the second hour of "W.W. and Dixie Dance Kings" (1975).

But during "White Lightning" he fired on all cylinders. He done looked good, he done talked good and he done ran the best shine south of the Mason-Dixon line. He also done flirts with Jennifer Billingsley who done -- O.K., enough of that...This is a movie with a genuine human conflict. Reynolds as Gator McKlusky goes undercover for the government into a moonshine network he grew up in, now collecting evidence against old friends, simply to gain access to one man against whom he seeks revenge. And because this is a Burt Reynolds movie from 1973, naturally that man is played by Ned Beatty.

So there are car chases.

But in between there's actually some decent acting and scriptwriting and Reynolds best acting this side of "Boogie Nights."

Though I'll say this -- you might be better off to watch this for free on Hulu or IMDB, which stream the widescreen version. DVDs you rent or buy will be a full-screen TV version. For some reason Diane Ladd is credited as Diane Lad, and one of the grimy little kids running around in her yard in the movie is her real life grimy little kid, future grimy big kid Laura Dern.

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