Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wanna See My Trophy?

An outstanding cast and plenty of good ol' boy action propel 1977's MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS, a Southern-fried drive-in classic. Three sexy sisters--Dot (Susan Howard), the oldest; middle sis Betty (Claudia Jennings); and teenaged Sissy (Brady girl Maureen McCormick in short shorts)--plot revenge after their bootlegger father is murdered by goons employed by county boss Jack Starkey (CANNON's William Conrad).

Starkey--an obese, foulmouthed, bearded lout who can often be found playing kinky sex games with assorted teenaged tarts--killed their pap to prevent competition in the illegal liquor market, which again becomes flooded when the Hammer sisters discover a massive cache of aged whiskey hidden in a tunnel beneath their shack.

The great John Saxon (THE BEES) stars in the Burt Reynolds role as fast-talkin', gum-chewin', hard-drivin', skirt-chasin' racecar ace J.B. Johnson, who runs liquor for Starkey, but eventually changes sides after some curvy persuasion by Dot.

Exploitation vet Gus Trikonis (THE EVIL, THE SWINGING BARMAIDS) expertly keeps the action humming along, and the actors all seem to be having a nice time. Conrad in particular, who was just coming off his successful five-season run as TV's CANNON, chews scenery nicely, and holds the screen even opposite his comelier co-stars. In fact, the entire project probably felt like a class reunion--Jennings and Morgan Woodward, who plays Starkey's chief assassin Sweetwater, both guest-starred on CANNON, while Saxon appeared in an episode of PETROCELLI, the Barry Newman lawyer series that starred Howard as Newman's wife and Albert Salmi, who plays MOONSHINE COUNTY's sheriff, as his legman.

If you like swampy locations (although MOONSHINE was actually lensed in California), hot cars, hot women, good acting, and lots of stunts, you could do a lot worse than MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS, which was released by Roger Corman's New World Pictures and produced by BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS's Ed Carlin. The lovely Candice Rialson is sadly underused as a teen sexpot, and SEINFELD fans will spot Len "Uncle Leo" Lesser. Fred Werner delivers the banjo-driven score.

1 comment:

Reel Distraction said...

Great review... I love this movie. Maureen McCormick is also excellent in Gary Graver's Texas Lightning, especially in the scene where she sings a sad country song to an empty country bar (under a massive Confederate flag, natch):

She's a much better country honey than a suburban Brady.