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John G. Avildsen,
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W.W. is a happy-go-lucky crook who makes his living robbing gas stations through the drive-up windows. The Dixie Dancekings are a country music band trying to get their first big break. W.W. crosses paths with the Dixie Dancekings when he hijacks their car (and them) to help him rob a bank. At first, the band resists. However, when they discover how much money they make, they begin helping out voluntarily in order to finance their big break. At the same time, W.W. takes a liking to them and uses his natural charm and smooth-talking ways to help them start down the road to stardom. Written by
He's a mixture of manure and sincerity...just don't call him a Communist!
Director John G. Avildsen fit in this low-keyed comedy between his "Save the Tiger" and "Rocky" ("Tiger" screenwriter, Steve Shagan, served as executive producer here). It's a Robin Hood-styled, anti-hero story with musical asides and a distinct feeling for the South in the late-1950s (the nostalgia for the era isn't laid on with a trowel, and the evocative milieu is very loose and natural). Thomas Rickman's screenplay tries for originality in its characterization, though the movie's charms lie mainly in the impeccable casting, the filming locations, and in the colorful detail (Avildsen shows a gift for throw-away pleasures and minute, happy bits of business). Burt Reynolds, grinning up a storm, is on the run from the law after robbing a series of filling stations with a water pistol; he takes up with a traveling country-western band for cover, but slowly begins to appreciate the friendships he makes there. Conny Van Dyke's Dixie, the band's singer-guitarist, is a marvelous creation (and the actress nearly upstages Reynolds in the bargain), however Art Carney's Deacon arrives too late (when interest in these adventures begins to flag). It isn't a terribly memorable (or even successful) picture, but bits of it do work a little ramshackle magic. ** from ****
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