An ex con teams up with federal agents to help them with breaking up a moonshine ring.An ex con teams up with federal agents to help them with breaking up a moonshine ring.An ex con teams up with federal agents to help them with breaking up a moonshine ring.
Nobody could have been more convincing as a paunchy Southern redneck sheriff than Ned Beatty. Reynolds and Beatty would team up in later years to make at least two more films with a similar tone: "W.W. And The Dixie Dancekings" (1975), and "Stroker Ace" (1983). In "White Lightning", wonderful Louise Latham makes a semi-cameo appearance as Sheriff Connors' reliable secretary.
Aside from casting and acting, "White Lightning" has other things going for it, not the least of which is a realistic portrayal of a small Southern town. The authenticity, with its various bubbas who frequent the pool halls, display their guns with pride, and race cars at the local fairgrounds, is striking. And with their big engines, the film's muscle cars gleefully tear up the pavement with their screeching tires and agile corner turning.
Indeed, those cars are so souped-up they even burn rubber on dirt roads. Oh well, who cares if there's a minor sound effects plot hole. A more substantive plot hole has Sheriff Connors unfamiliar with the geography of his own county. In particular, he might want to check the map again to note the existence of a large lake at the end of one particular dirt road. Still, his ignorance is our gain as a plot point that proves symmetrically effective.
Plot holes aside, this is a film of dust, dirt, car chases, whiskey stills, the sounds of screeching tires, and some dang good performances. "White Lightning" is worth viewing also for its 1970s nostalgia, and for its authentic Southern setting.
- Dec 30, 2007