REEL FURY: The Last American Hero
Furious Cinema Presents a new feature in which we’ll give our own brief commentaries on both new and old film trailers. This is REEL FURY!
“You make a move on me, I’ll rip his lip off and give it to you for a key ring.”
As a little tribute to one of our favorite actors Jeff Bridges who turns 64 today we wanted to look back at one of our favorite films from his early career. Lamont Johnson’s The Last American Hero (1973) was based on the true story of NASCAR champion Junior Johnson. In the film Jeff plays Johnson’s alter-ego, Elroy Jackson Jr. a rebellious, fast living teen who runs moonshine for his good ol’ daddy (Art Lund). His supercharged Mustang Fastback is the perfect high octane transportation to help him evade the law on the country roads during his drop offs. Junior’s even made up all kinds of cool tricks to get him out of trouble when the cops are on his trail. When his father is suddenly busted for operating an illegal moonshining still and thrown in jail, Junior is forced to figure out some other way to make money for the family. He decides to do what he’s best at which is driving a car. His initial outing at a demolition derby goes well and he then decides to enter the world of stock car racing. Since Junior is considered by many to be a dopey hick, everyone he meets seems out to take advantange of him including a promoter, Hackel (Ned Beatty) and a young beauty named Marge (Valerie Perrine) who is seeing Kyle Kingman (William Smith) a champ on his way down. Junior soon learns Marge is not the sweet girl he assumed but merely a racing groupie that just wants to be with whoever’s winning. Through all the scamming, mindgames and jealousy, Junior maintains his integrity and determination to be a winner with some help from his devoted family and close friends. The supporting cast that includes Gary Busey as Wayney, Junior’s younger brother and the late Ed Lauter, Junior’s car owner/sponsor are excellent. The film features some very thrilling and visceral race sequences as well as the memorable 70s pop hit “I Got A Name” by Jim Croce, a perfect anthem for Junior’s plight. The Last American Hero is a furious cinema classic that combines southern heartfelt drama with fast paced motorized excitement. We highly recommend it to both Jeff Bridges and avid NASCAR fans.