The original version of Texas Lightning was a serious drama called "The Boys", which producer Edward L. Montoro forced director Gary Graver to re-cut and shoot additional comedic footage for. The new version was released to the theaters as Texas Lightning, while the original cut of the boys remains officially unreleased to this day. An illegitimate video was released in Finland in the early 90's. There might also be other European bootleg editions. See more »
Nearly all the vehicles in this movie have California license plates, even though it's supposed to take place in Texas. See more »
A misguided father (Cameron Mitchell) wants to make his shy, sensitive son "into a man" (and it's about damn time since the young character, played by Mitchell's real-life son, looks to be about twenty five). He decides to take him on a hunting trip with his buddies, two of the sorriest excuses for "men" around. (Even in Texas this pair would be regarded as fat, dumb, redneck losers). The hunting trip/rite-of-passage involves getting drunk and driving into the 120 degree Texas summer heat to shoot at beer bottles and bunny rabbits (if this makes one a "man", then my friends in Wyoming and I would have achieved manhood at about ten). Later they go to a honky-tonk bar where the most pathetic wet t-shirt contest you ever saw is taking place, and a Hal Needham/Burt Reynolds-style bloodless brawl breaks out every five minutes. There the boy meets a pretty young barmaid and aspiring prostitute (Maureen "Marcia Brady" McCormick)and takes her back to the hotel room. They suffer some traumatic coitus interruptus, however, when the two redneck friends bust in a force themselves on "Marcia", I mean Maureen. The movie then turns into a REALLY tame and bloodless (in every sense of the word) rape-revenge flick.
This movie started out as a more serious "Macon County Line" type of a film, a labor-of-love by talented cinematographer and not-so-talented director Gary Graver based on his own script called "The boys" (which certainly must have, given the title, recognized the irony of a group of immature middle-aged butt-wipes who everyone still refers to as "boys" trying to initiate ANYONE into manhood). The distributors renamed it "Texas Lightning" possibly to fit with the wretched country-music theme song (or vice versa)and re-edited it into a sub-"Smokey and the Bandit", sub-"Dukes of Hazzard" redneck-athon with a lot of alleged comic relief and an implausibly happy ending. The uneven (to say the least) tone will give you cinematic whiplash. Cameron Mitchell, who was the only really good actor in this, refused to participate in the re-shooting and just disappears entirely near the end. It's rumored that in the original Graver cut, still floating out there somewhere in terminal litigation, the two rednecks meet a much more unpleasant, if deserving, fate. (In MY cut they would receive shotgun enemas in the first five minutes and be left rotting in a shallow grave in the desert along with the "good ole boys" responsible for the crappy theme song). You'll have to take Graver's word for it that his cut is any kind of masterpiece, but the one under consideration here is certainly worthless dreck regardless.
Most people today will no doubt see this for Maureen McCormick's brief "nude scene", but frankly you'd have better luck spotting subliminal ads for hot dogs and soft drinks from back when this played the drive ins. The only remotely sexy aspect of this movie involves a scene with the implausibly attractive young girlfriend of one of the rednecks dressed in a see-through teddy. McCormick is OK as an actress here, but she's pretty miscast as a tough honky-tonk Southern girl. She also "sings" at point, which will invoke, for those of us Americans of a certain age, traumatic and previously deeply repressed memories of the notoriously ill-advised "Brady Bunch Variety Hour" TV show (shudder!). Not recommended--at least until when (or if) the Graver cut is ever released.
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