The film is docudrama in tone. Although it was presented as "a true story" to attract a wider audience much like the Hollywood revisionist film Walking Tall (1973), its plot and characters are entirely fictional. See more »
Hamp tells Reed that the car needs a new water pump, while it needs a new fuel pump. See more »
Deputy Reed Morgan:
Hurry up on the car there. Don't want to keep these nice folk here any longer than we have to. I'm not going to like it. I wouldn't like that at all.
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70's gritnik cinema doesn't get much better. Pure tautness. Imagine Sam Peckinpah had done this, or John Boorman, or that it starred one of the many young upstarts of New Hollywood; it would've been one of the classic movies we referenced from this era, that's for sure.
Alas it had none of those things. But it wasn't a drive-in smash hit for no reason either and as much as high brow critics would dismiss the regular love-pit crowd as easily pleased or what have you, the truth is Macon County Line is an all around accomplished movie that is almost too good to be classified as exploitation. Or the kind of hicksploitation you find in movies like Gator Bait.
What starts as an amusing "boys just wanna have fun" road movie soon turns into a tight, gripping thriller but not without stopping to sample some of the local Lousiana colour first. The economy in the story is incredible, there's no frame wasted, nothing that doesn't propel the story forward or build mood or characters. The direction is confident, without highfallutin auteur-ism but with an efficiency and energy that suits the material.
What really elevates Macon is the superb cast. Names and faces I've never seen before but they're all perfect in their roles, understated and emotional in just the right measure and true to the characters they're supposed to be playing without becoming self-conscious caricatures of themselves. Even the backwoods mechanic carries an authenticity, a sense that you're watching a real person and that such people do exist.
Which brings me to another major success for the movie. It presents and inhabits a real world with real characters that have lived their lives there. The real locations and unknown cast sure help a great deal but so does the story, dialogues and actor interplay. We get a vision of the graphic South without the self-conscious quirks the Coens used in Raising Arizona or Oliver Stone in U-Turn, both great movies but still "artificial" in how they depict life.
Tightly edited, beautifully photographed, with cool music and a fine-tuned screenplay, memorable performances and an unexpected ending, Macon County Line justifies its cult status and drive-in success 30 years down the line and belongs in the very elite company of gritnik gems like Two-Lane Blacktop and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.
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