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Video / DVD: Rewind

Redneck roundup

If you look past the stereotypes, there won't be anything left. But if you like redneck humor, these films are sure to suit you.

By PHILIP BOOTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 10, 2003


photo
[Photo: Universal Studios]
Burt Reynolds and his sideburns star in Smokey and the Bandit, which features car chases, collisions, beer and, of course, a love interest.

Hollywood may have become more sensitive when it comes to portrayals of various ethnic and religious groups. But, so far, rednecks remain fair game: Lower-income Caucasians, generally from the South and often residing in trailer parks, are painted as buffoons.

You know the type: men with mullet haircuts and pronounced drawls, hound dogs out front, moonshine stills out back, with cars propped up on concrete blocks and guns racked in pickup trucks.

Wakin' Up in Reno, a lowbrow road-trip comedy starring Billy Bob Thornton and just released on DVD, is one of the more recent examples of movies populated by redneck types, or, more accurately, stereotypes.

A few others, all available on home video:

Sweet Home Alabama (2002) -- Reese Witherspoon exits a career as a top New York fashion designer to return home to her ex-husband, in the process learning that we're all rednecks at heart. Right? Also stars Josh Lucas, Patrick Dempsey, Candice Bergen, Mary Kay Place, Fred Ward and Jean Smart.

Deliverance (1972) -- The worst kind of rednecks, the raping-and-shooting variety, are on display in this gripping action flick directed by John Boorman and based on the James Dickey novel. Four businessman (Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox) go on the world's scariest weekend outing, a canoeing trip through the wilds of backwoods Georgia. Dueling Banjos is on the soundtrack.

Mississippi Burning (1988) -- Based on a real-life story, principled FBI agents Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe, investigating the disappearance of three civil-rights workers, fend off cross-burning racists. Cinematographer Peter Biziou won an Academy Award, and Hackman, Frances McDormand and director Alan Parker notched Oscar nominations.

Jeff Foxworthy: You Might Be a Redneck (1995) -- Foxworthy, the comedian and star of a short-lived television show, runs through all the old and sometimes funny redneck jokes, in a performance that originally aired on Showtime.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977) -- Bandit (Burt Reynolds) and Cledus (Jerry Reed) plot to transport a truckload of Coors beer from Texas to Georgia in 28 hours, with a bumbling cop (Jackie Gleason) in hot pursuit. Sally Field is the love interest, and the Bandit's massive sideburns and souped-up Pontiac Trans Am are the co-stars. This tremendously popular comedy, essentially one long car chase interrupted by smartly staged collisions, spawned two lesser sequels.

Bloody Mama (1970) -- Kate "Ma" Barker (Shelley Winters) and her four sons ditch the Ozarks for a road-trip crime spree in this notorious Roger Corman exploitation picture. The cast includes Pat Hingle, Bruce Dern, Robert De Niro and Scatman Crothers.

Joe Dirt (2001) -- The mullet-headed title character (David Spade) is a thick-headed janitor who endures attacks by a bully (Kid Rock), a gator and a serial killer. Also stars Dennis Miller, Christopher Walken, Adam Beach, Brittany Daniel and Fred Ward.

Wise Blood (1979) -- More Southern Gothic than redneck, director John Huston's adaptation of a Flannery O'Connor novel concerns a returning World War II soldier who appoints himself leader of his own Church Without Christ. The cast includes Harry Dean Stanton (as a blind preacher), Ned Beatty and William Hickey.

Inbred Rednecks (2001) -- Title says all! According to Amazon.com, this cleverly plotted obscurity details the adventures of a quartet of Bubbas (including one named Bubba) hoping for better living through cockfighting.

Gator Bait (1976) -- Tagline says all! "Untamed and deadly, she ruled the swamp with a blazing gun and a luscious smile." Claudia Jennings, a Playmate, stars. Followed by a 1988 sequel, Gator Bait II: Cajun Justice.

Redneck Zombies (1987) -- Tagline says all! "They're Tobacco Chewin', Gut Chompin', Cannibal Kinfolk from Hell!" From the fine folks (Troma) who brought us The Toxic Avenger and its sequels.

Li'l Abner (1940) -- The Al Capp comic strip comes to life, with Jeff York as the title character, Martha O'Driscoll as Daisy Mae and a cast including Buster Keaton and other silent-era veterans. In the 1959 musical version, Peter Palmer and Leslie Parrish star, along with Julie Newmar and Stella Stevens.

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