Saturday, February 19, 2011

Double Feature

So I had this bright idea to do a double feature today. Decided I would re-watch White Lightning- starring Burt Reynolds, followed by its sequel Gator - which I have never seen before.

White Lightning
- is an early pre-mustache Burt Reynolds film that kicks all kinds of ass. Burt is a freaking bad-ass and actually acts really well in this flick (rather than just mugging for the camera and laughing like most of his 70's flicks). In fact I'd say this is Burt's best early role next to The Longest Yard. But it isn't just Burt that makes this flick so damn good. Ned Beatty plays the meanest, sweatiest, southern sheriff in film history here. Beatty's performance is so real and intimidating - well it is just Oscar-worthy. The score to White Lightning is a great 70's action score with hints of swamp guitar. The screenplay is on fire with some of the best country-fried but hard-boiled dialogue you're likely to find. But it is really the directing by Joseph Sargent that sells this movie for me. Sargent gives the swamps and country around them a 70's grit and realism that really makes you feel the southern heat and taste the moonshine. Sargent would later bring his eye for realism and detail to The Taking of Pelham 123 (a personal favorite of mine).

White Lightning kicks unholy ass - so imagine my surprise when the sequel Gator turned out to be one of the biggest turds of a movie I have ever watched.

Gator is directed by Burt Reynolds (there is your first warning, right?). The story takes place several years after Burt's character's adventure in the first film. In this one Gator has given up running moonshine in hot-rods, to simply brew it in the swamp with his dad and daughter. But of course the Feds come in and threaten to arrest Gator's dad unless Gator helps them clean up a county down in Florida that Gator's childhood friend is ruling over as crime boss. The premise is simple but okay - it is the execution and the bizarre 'sensitive' portrayal of Gator in this sequel that ruins it.

Reynold's plays Gator like he plays The Bandit and it annoys the hell out of me. Gator is a tough, no nonsense, ball of seething rage in the first movie. In the sequel he's a wuss - plain and simple. And he doesn't even get to drive a hot-rod! The movie seemed to avoid car chases at all costs. Which sucks. I don't want to see Gator sneaking around the town carrying an old lady's cat while she fumbles with the keys to the file room. I don't want half the movie dedicated to the New York Jew (fish out of water) Federal Agent. What the hell is that crap? And what's with Gator bedding down with the news-lady women's libber? That sucked! Gator actually almost cries at the end! WTF?

In the first flick Gator bangs his buddy's Mongoloid-Yet-Oddly-Seductive Swamp-Rat-Hoochie-Mama. And when the bad guys have the drop on him, Gator coaxes them into trying to rape her so as to mask his escape attempt. The Gator of White Lightning does not cry, he doesn't tell some upwardly mobile broad " he loves her". The real Gator breaks shotguns over bad guy's heads and kills them with his amazing driving skills and suped-up engines. In the sequel Gator runs from trouble every chance he gets - the White Lightning Gator was a man's man who met trouble head-on (nay he sought trouble out!). Where in development hell did this sequel derail? What the hell were they thinking when they made Gator a 'sensitive' type? Don't they realize no one fucking cares what Gator's favorite color is? Or his philosophy of the ocean? Seriously I kid you not - he talks about his philosophy of the ocean in this movie! I felt like screaming at the screen!

Ack, I am so fucking disappointed! Gator sucked and I will never watch it ever again! Don't waste your time on this piece of shit movie - just re-watch the original instead.

Originally posted on July 26, 2006 on Myspace.

I saw 'Gator' on television again recently (2010) and it is just as offensive to 'White Lightning' fans as ever!

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