Viking Night: White Lightning
By Bruce Hall
April 26, 2017
No, White Lightning is not the direct to VHS sequel to Blue Thunder - as undeniably awesome as that would be.
No, White Lightning is actually a whole different animal. It is an old school, low budget action thriller circa 1973, starring the one and only Burt Reynolds - replete in all his pre moustache glory. Perhaps this means nothing to you, and if so, I’m terribly sorry for the sad, hollow life you clearly lead. Or perhaps it’s not your fault, because you’re just too young to understand.
For that, I can only blame society. For if you Google recent photos of the man, you will see a frail, dessicated husk - more beef jerky than badass. Don’t let this fool you, though. ONce upon a time, Burt Reynolds was the biggest movie star in America. So gather all ye round, and I shall explain why.
Even before the moustache, Burt Reynolds was a major star, as well as one of the leading sex symbols of his time. Men wanted to be him, despite their universal unworthiness. Women, meanwhile, were known to become spontaneously pregnant in his presence. Reynolds’ famous nude photo spread in Cosmopolitan was credited (by me) with a nationwide population spike in 1973. Some say it was the moustache, and that with it his power became unrivalled. Prophecy tells us this will remain so until the Stache Wars, when Reynolds, Nick Offerman and Tom Selleck will join Stache to save humanity from destruction (any time now, guys).
But that is a story for another day. Today, we’re going to talk about Gator McKlusky, a down on his luck moonshiner serving hard time for the aforementioned shining of moons. It turns out the government is willing to look the other way on that whole bootlegging thing, provided they’re given a taste of the action (for those not in the know, moonshine is like vodka that people who wear pajamas to Wal-Mart make in a bathtub). It’s the same type of big-government corruption that outlaws like Thomas Jefferson and Gator McKlusky have fought since the dawn of time.
So Gator, like every patriot before him, doesn’t play that game. Of course this lands him in prison, but that doesn’t make it any less manly. And when his brother is murdered by a corrupt sheriff, Gator literally punches his way out of prison.
Of course he’s immediately captured, but that doesn’t make it any less manly.
Gator seems to be really well liked in prison. Even after he tries to escape, they kind of just pat him on the back and tell him to chill. I can only assume this is because for Burt Reynolds, even when it’s not present, the Stache is present. So, not willing to be cowed, Gator uses what I’m sure is a completely fictitious legal loophole to get himself out of prison. Ostensibly, he’ll be working for the Federal government, trying to collect incriminating evidence on a certain Sheriff J.C. Connors (Ned Beatty) - the very same man who murdered Gator’s brother.
Connors has a stranglehold on the local booze market, and the Feds seem eager to bring him down. They’re so eager, in fact, that they set Gator up with a tricked out set of wheels and then cut him loose with no supervision whatsoever. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume there was little to no law enforcement consultation on White Lightning. None of the cop related things that happen in this film feel like things that would actually happen, and I say that as a man who can accept a lot in that regard.