White Lightning is credited with starting the Good ‘Ol Boys car outlaw flick. It rightly stars Burt Reynolds, who is an icon of the genre, in a role that allows him to shine his mega-watt charisma. The picture is dated in styles and attitudes. But the craftsmanship in filmmaking and acting, particularly Ned Beatty, is still remarkable.
Gator McClusky (Reynolds) is a convict in the deep south. He’s forced to spend his time doing hard labor on a chain-gang. That’s until the warden offers him a deal- Go undercover to expose a moonshine ring involving a small-town sheriff (Ned Beatty) or continue digging ditches in the summer heat.
McClusky ain’t a fool and before long he’s embedded himself in an illegal alcohol distribution circuit. However, Gator’s loyalty to the folks of the south making a living selling homemade liquior begins to get in the way of his contract with the law.
Burt Reynolds finds his on-screen perona in White Lightning, the role suits him well, and would go on to play a variation of this character for another 11 years in a dozen other films. In some of those latter day movies Reynolds seemed bored and disheartened. In White Lightning, Burt, is fully committed and turns in a solid, totally believable, and ultra charimatic performance. This is a movie that any true fan of the moustachoied one can’t afford miss.
Director: Joesph Sargent
Stars: Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty,Bo Hopkins