The Last American Hero

Director: Lamont Johnson
Year Released: 1973
Rating: 2.0

In North Carolina, Elroy Jackson (Jeff Bridges) uses his skills behind the wheel to speed past the cops and deliver his Pappy's illegal moonshine ... and eventually takes his talent to NASCAR where he competes against the best.  It's based on story of Junior Johnson - immortalized in Tom Wolfe's piece for Esquire (and included in the book The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, which is a must-read anyone interested in the school of New Journalism) - but as a film it's strangely distanced: the racing scenes have a bit of charge to them but everything else - involving Jackson's brother (Gary Busey), father (Art Lund) or "love interest" Marge (Valerie Perrine) - just comes out flat, and even the ending is more of a sigh than a celebration.  The actual story is a great bit of Americana, but Bridges is so dour: he hadn't become "The Dude" yet.