Burt Reynolds faces off against Ned Beatty as the most frightening and real villain one can imagine. His method of vengeance? Crashing cars and banging ladies!
White Lightning is a cornerstone of what would happen for the rest of the 70's. Mostly Burt Reynolds in cars and doing his silly laugh. But really its influence goes so much farther than that. It sprinkles into trucking movies, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Walking Tall, and anything that involves cars and bayous moving forward. Some of that is Hal Needham's stunt work, some of it is Burt's charm, but really it seems like it was just the natural filmic direction that matched the post-Civil-Rights-Movement and late Vietnam war culture of America.
Thankfully, White Lightning is low on cringe that a lot of its contemporaries suffer from. Burt's chauvinism is at a minimum (somewhat) and you learn throughout the film that really Burt is taking vengeance against oppression against free speech and political dissent. Its a weird backdrop to a film that has a guy jump a car onto a barge and drink moonshine constantly. I mean there's a lot of silly in a movie about a con/federal rat on a mission to kill a corrupt cop. It makes for a weird dynamic and is either the films greatest weakness or strength. I may be too much of a charlatan to know.
While White Lightning has all the right pieces in place, it does fall a bit in its dinking around. There's just too much hanging out and scenery chewing and not enough getting some ice cold revenge. Still a do for someone new but just barely.
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