A Movie A Day #351: Moonshine Highway (1996, directed by Andy Armstrong)


The time is the 1950s.  The place is the backwoods of Tennessee.  Everyone is obsessed with three things: cars, sex, and moonshine.  Jud Muldoon (Kyle MacLachlan) served his country in World War II and now he just wants to make a living.  He is the best moonshine runner in Appalachia.  When he gets behind the wheel of a car, no one can outrun him.  As long as he gets his cut, Sheriff Wendell Miller (Randy Quaid) has no problem with looking the other way when it comes to the moonshiners in his county.  Or at least he doesn’t until the feds show up and start breathing down his neck about all the money they’re losing through non-taxed liquor sales.  Complicating matters even more is that when Jud isn’t running moonshine, he’s sleeping with Ethel (Maria del Mar), who just happens to be married to the sheriff.

Though Canada fills in unconvincingly for Tennessee and the movie is full of more  corn-prone clichés than you can shake a stick at, Moonshine Highway is still a fairly entertaining tribute to old drive-in movies like Thunder Road and Moonrunners.  Kyle MacLachlan is surprisingly convincing as a backwoods driver and Randy Quaid was always at his best when playing corrupt Southern law enforcement.  (This was filmed before Quaid’s infamous meltdown.)  This was the only film directed by famed stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong and he does a good job capturing all of the vehicular mayhem.  Moonshine Highway was originally made for Showtime and it is not the easiest movie to find.  It’s available on VHS and on DVD in Argentina.

If you do see the movie, keep an eye out for director David Cronenberg in a small role.

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