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White Lightning

Director: Joseph Sargent Run Time: 101 min. Format: 35mm Rating: PG Release Year: 1973

Starring: Burt Reynolds, Bo Hopkins, Ned Beatty, Jennifer Billingsly

1972’s Deliverance proved that Burt Reynolds was an actor, but it was the following year’s White Lightning that announced Reynolds as a movie star; foreshadowing his box office dominance for the remainder of the decade.

Setting off on a revenge quest, Gator McKlusky (Reynolds) is granted release from federal prison, following his brother’s murder, to infiltrate the nefarious backcountry dealings of the man he suspects is responsible — a corrupt county sheriff (Ned Beatty). Featuring a lean, pulp-y script by William W. Norton (Night of the Juggler, Big Bad Mama), a propulsive southern-fried score from Charles Bernstein, and bruising car chases and stunts that would come to define Reynolds’ oeuvre, White Lightning stands as, perhaps, the sweatiest movie ever made, all of it basking in Reynolds’ star power and macho, good ol’ boy sex appeal.