The 1970s was a hell of a decade for film — I don’t really feel the need to back that statement up. Yes, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, Chinatown, The Deer Hunter, even Star Wars — the list goes on, and they’re all great. But even genre films, and particularly Blaxploitation, were often pretty good. Shaft, Superfly, Truck Turner, Pam Grier movies — these are eminently watchable and re-watchable films.
Yet I’ve a nagging theory that there is a comparable genre of white cinema. Blaxploitation heroes were street-smart avengers, living by their own sometimes peculiar moral code, sick of the ghetto and sick of The Man and yes — it’s a cliche now but cliches have to come from somewhere –eager to Stick it to him.
Their white counterparts are more likely rural, far less concerned with any sort of social justice and more likely driven by adolescent contempt for authority. They are cowboys or good ol’ boys without horses — mechanical bulls and 18-wheelers have to suffice. Sometimes there is a well-defined plot or conflict in these films, though it is often trivial (say, moving a truck full of beer from Texas to Georgia) other times it’s an interior conflict — can this rugged nonconformist fit into today’s society or is he destined to keep fucking up? Oh, and unlike with Blaxploitation, films of this genre are often intentionally funny.
One could call it … Honxploitation? Usual suspects include Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood; country music is the soundtrack and country stars often play supporting roles. CB radio and moonshine help move the plot along. Here’s my list:
Reynolds: White Lightning, Gator, Smokey and the Bandit and sequels, Cannonball Run
Eastwood: Every Which Way But Loose, Any Which Way You Can, Bronco Billy
White Line Fever
Mother, Jugs and Speed
Thunderbolt & Lightfoot
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry