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White Lightning [Blu-ray]
(Joseph Sargent, 1973)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,266,789,398 bytes
Feature Size: 22,123,868,160 bytes
Video Bitrate: 25.88 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: November 11th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1678 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1678 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• Back to the Bayou Part 1 (9:55)
• Trailer (2:27)
Description: White Lightning will give you the jolt of your life! Burt Reynolds (Sam Whiskey) is Gator McKlusky, a moonshine runner who wages war against corrupt police officials in this two-fisted, four-wheeling action extravaganza. With adrenaline-pumping car chases, bone-crunching brawls and terrific acting by an all-star cast, including Ned Beatty, Diane Ladd, Bo Hopkins, Matt Clark and R.G. Armstrong. Gator is serving time in the Arkansas prison when he learns that a ruthless and corrupt sheriff (Beatty) has framed and killed his baby brother. Swearing vengeance, Gator agrees to go undercover to expose the dirty sheriff, going to any lengths to get the goods and make him pay for the crime. Top-notch direction by Joseph Sargent (Taking of Pelham One Two Three) with a wonderful script by William W. Norton (Gator).
When the police pick up Gator McKlusky (Burt Reynolds) for running moonshine, they agree to let him out of jail if he will help them capture the key figures in his moonshine operation. Since the suspected ring leader is the man who killed Gator's little brother, he agrees to help out the cops to get himself out of prison and get his revenge.
An example of what can go wrong with a movie. Ned Beatty as the corrupt Southern sheriff who drowns two long-hairs in a backwater; the down-home photography; the minor characters who bootleg whisky - they all make it look as if the film has something to say. But with Burt Reynolds, playing it light though all out for revenge as the brother of one of the dead boys, everything becomes one long car chase, and in the end it's just a matter of the fat bald bully getting his comeuppance at the hands of the not-so-fat toupeed hero. Reynolds returned to the character in Gator three years later.
"White lightning," of course, is another term for moonshine whiskey, the basis for this tale of backwoods intrigue and action. Reynolds is Gator, a bootlegger enlisted by the Treasury Department (or what Granny Clampett used to call "revenooers") to nab the corrupt (what else?) and bigoted Sheriff Connors, played by Ned Beatty, who had co-starred with Reynolds in Deliverance. Connors has his own moonshine business operating on the side. The lawman was also responsible for the death of Gator's brother, and that provides his real motive for working with the Feds. With the help of a souped-up car, another bootlegger (Bo Hopkins), and a sexy girlfriend (Jennifer Billingsley), Gator gets the goods on the sheriff. But not before engaging in the major delight and raison d'etre of movies of this type the uproarious antics of stunt drivers on dirt roads and through the swamps of the film's Arkansas location shoot.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Looks like even Gator McKlusky is making it to Blu-ray. Kino's 1080P image is quite thick. This is single-layered with a reasonable bitrate and I expect this is as good as the film has ever looked on digital. It is fairly flat and has softness - both probably inherent in the original source. The 1.85:1 visuals are consistent and, I'll wager, a solid replication of the film's original appearance. This Blu-ray does its job looking superior to SD - and that is about all one could expect.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Kino go with a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1678 kbps. The effects (notably car chases) are exported with some surprising depth in lossless impacting demonstratively on the atmosphere. The score by Charles Bernstein (Stoney, Cujo, Deadly Friend) - essentially Way Down Under performed by Jerry Whitman - is very suitable and works within the framework of this genre. There are optional English subtitles (see sample above) offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Extras consist of a new 10-minute, part 1 (part two coming in Kino's Gator Blu-ray release), of Back to the Bayou with Burt Reynolds talking about the Gator character and the film production, its popularity and reminiscences. There is also a trailer.
November 3rd, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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