With an absolutely top-notch cast headed by the excellent Bridges, this loose adaptation of a series of articles by Tom Wolfe could hardly fail. Telling of young Carolina hill-billy Junior Jackson (based on Junior Johnson), it traces his rise from moonshine-runner to stock-car and demolition-derby champ, and then on to fame as a big-time racer. But this is no mere celebration of fame, since it lightly but firmly sketches in the many compromises and losses met on the road to success. Johnson directs with a keen eye for the subculture of the car tracks and the whisky brewers, so that the film emerges as a winning, intelligent portrait of an aspect of America all too rarely seen in the movies. Like a Thunder Road filtered through the perceptions of the '70s, it's an invigorating and touching movie.
The Last American Hero
Cast and crew