WHITE LIGHTNING, GATOR

Movie reviews, commentary

I recommend these two movies. They are filmed in the South; nothing looks like a Hollywood set. Burt Reynolds, an ex-con, is out of prison so long as he helps Revenuers (IRS, State Taxes). Both stories involve moonshine, but Gator also includes gambling, protection, prostitution and drugs.

Each movie is a hardcore look at the facts and circumstances of happening and living in those worlds. Filming on location in the South lends a gritty authentication. Good characters die. It seems real, including car chases in White Lightning, and a spin around a lake in a boat to evade law enforcement in Gator.

At the end of Gator, Lauren Hutton, local TV news reporter, has a chance to leave and go to CBS in New York. Reynold’s character development in the film, watching women being slammed by southern culture, relents. Their newly minted relationship is at an end. He admits she would love New York work. He drives off into his world of the South.

This last point in movies today, leaving to fulfill professional aspirations is a throw-away point usually canned to become a politically correct: Go to New York. In Gator Reynolds has a nine year old daughter, who does not get much screen time. Yet at the end, the audience knows Reynolds will be sure his girl will grow into womanhood better prepared to face the world her father currently lives in.

I attribute the appearance of each movie to a low budget and to Burt Reynolds. Reynolds is a son of the South; he used the sets he had; he wasn’t making amendments to pretty things up for the camera. In the end he presented the South for what it was during the 1970s.

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