W. Bright (Burt Reynolds) is a robber with a heart of gold who travels the South knocking off banks and gas stations owned by a corrupt businessman. When he hijacks a car, he meets an aspiring country band, the Dixie Dancekings, led by Dixie (Conny Van Dyke). The two sides eventually take a liking to one another, especially after the Dancekings realize the size of Bright's thefts. Trailed by ...
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John G. Avildsen
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
Burt hit it big in the 70's, but some of his best stuff is now obscure. This film was poorly based on a book, and that's cost it in terms of appreciation, but after all these years it stands up well on its own. Sure, there are silly plot holes, but it's a lighthearted comedy that features some great country and bluegrass, and a rockin' Jerry Reed belting out a respectable Johnny B. Goode, too! But particularly savor the fifteen minutes or so given to Memphis blues legend Furry Lewis. That man played a wicked slide guitar, and I'm not sure how much footage actually exists besides this film.
Art Carney was perfect as the preacher with a gun and plenty of fire and brimstone who loved tracking down the occasional sinner/thief. Yes, there's great comedy here too, but the music is what makes the film.
This film was replayed a lot on 70's TV, that's where I learned to love it. And after having watched it last night (on a poor TV-formatted copy which was, I believe, otherwise unedited), I believe it's gotten better with age. Don Williams showed that he was a pretty darned good actor in addition to being a successful country crooner of the era. Mel Tillis was great as a goofy gas station attendant. But savor Furry Lewis. How wonderful that we got to see this wonderful legend in good health making that slide guitar scream on his front porch.
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