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Friday, 15 May 2020

Burl reviews Redneck County! (1974)

HAW HAW HAW it’s Burl, reporting from Redneck County! Yes, it’s a clear case of hayseed action-comedy today, and while the picture in question is variously known as The Great Lester Boggs, The Hard Heads, The Tapioca Tree (ha ha!), or Hootch County Boys, I know it as, quite simply, Redneck County! (Adding to the confusion is that Redneck County is also an alternate title for the Leslie Uggams kidnap picture Poor Pretty Eddie, but that’s neither here nor there, ha ha!)
One might lump this movie into the great burst of rural carchase pictures that bloomed after the marvelous success of Smokey and the Bandit! Yes, there were many - The Great Smokey Roadblock, Smokey Bites the Dust, Every Which Way But Loose, Moonshine County Express, Hotwire - but this one, Redneck County, came along well before Burt’s Trans-Am triumph! There were other hicksploitation pictures before Smokey and the Bandit too, of course, several of them starring Burt himself, but Redneck County has nothing to do with those, and is sort of its own thing!
Our heroes are a white guy with old lady hair and a black guy from Tupelo! The white guy, first seen motorcycling away from a funeral with a potted plant in his sidecar, cruises for a while before heading down into the redneck latitudes, where he comes across a fellow about to catch the beating of his life at the hands of a troublemaking motorcycle gang! Well, the old lady haired fellow, whose name turns out to be Malcolm Vandiver, rescues the other guy, whose name of course is Leroy Jones, and a banjo-pluckin’ chase sequence ensues!
Despite a-slippin' and a-slidin' off their machines over and over again, the bikers are somehow about to catch our duo; when suddenly a dyspeptic biplane pilot named Lester Boggs, played by Robert Ridgely from The Wild Life, swoops in and save the day! The trio become fast friends and from there it’s a series of would-be hilarious outrages throughout the county!
Alex Karras, the burlyman from Porky’s and When Time Ran Out, is the local law, and he of course spends his time a-cluckin’ and a-squawkin’ about the various rucki caused by the trio! It’s ruckus after ruckus, sure enough, spiced with some finger-pickin’ car chases, some games a' dice, a little romance between Malcolm Vandiver and a local farm daughter, some airplane stunts from the moonshine-swozzled Boggs, and lots of shockingly casual racism against Leroy Jones! (Ha ha, the racism comes from the redneck characters, not from the filmmakers, it should be noted!)
Ha ha, Malcolm Vandiver and his old lady hair might be played by Scott McKenzie, the singer of the San Francisco song, in his only movie appearance, but I’ve heard tell that he later denied it was him in the picture! Maybe that was the reason for the old lady wig, if indeed it was a wig!
Anyway, critically speaking there’s not a lot to say about a picture like this! The pacing is tolerable, and there’s a fair bit of incident! The behaviour of Lester Boggs is just “plane” irritating after a while, ha ha – he’s supposed to be a good-time folk-rebel anti-hero, but he just comes across as a dangerous, bumbling, drunken ass! It’s pretty plotless – I think the movie was modeled, curiously enough, on the anti-redneck production Easy Rider more than it was on White Lightning or something similar, but in any case it’s altogether a typical rural hayseed yaa-hoo skid-out comedy, and I give Redneck County one big bottle of 'shine!

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