First released in 1977, Polk County Pot Plane tells the story of Oosh (Don Watson) and Doosh (Bobby Watson), two brothers who have the long hair, country accents, and full beards of two guys who made most of their life decisions at a Lynard Skynard concert and who haven’t looked back since.
Oosh and Doosh spend most of their time hanging out in the mountains of Northern Georgia. They pass the time drinking beer, smoking weed, and driving too fast. Oosh and Doosh do have a job, of course. The Dixie Mafia pays them to help unload all of the marijuana that is transported on a plane that regularly lands in the mountains. The plane is nicknamed Big Bird and it even gets its own credit at the start of the film.
The opening credits also inform us that the pilot of Big Bird was played by an actor named Big Jim.
At the start of the film, Oosh and Doosh are unloading the plane but, unbeknownst to them, the cops have followed them out to the landing area. When the cops finally make their presence known, Big Jim and the plane are able to escape but Oosh, Doosh, and two other hippies are arrested (and their RV practically destroyed) after a long chase.
With Oosh and Doosh in the county jail, the word goes out to all the drug kingpins, which is to say that there is a lengthy montage of people picking up the phone and explaining the situation over and over again. Eventually, a helicopter lands on top of the jail and Oosh and Doosh are able to make their escape. The helicopter flies over Georgia with Oosh and Doosh literally clinging onto the bottom of it.
This scene was filmed without stunt people. That really is Don and Bobby Watson hanging onto that helicopter and the scene is also makes it clear that the helicopter really was flying high above a small town with the two actors dangling underneath. If either Don and Bobby Watson had lost their grip, they would have basically plunged to their death. On the one hand, you might wonder how the Watsons were convinced to risk their lives for a film called Polk County Pot Plane. On the other hand, the scene is a hundred times more effective than one might expect precisely because the risk was real.
In fact, not a single professional stunt person was used in Polk Count Pot Plane. All of the stunts were done by the members of the cast, the majority of whom appear to have been amateurs. The sheriff who locks up Oosh and Doosh apparently was an actual sheriff. Big Jim actually was a pilot. While there isn’t much information available about the Watson brothers, their country stoner vibe feels authentic from the start. For almost the entire cast, this was their first and only film. What they lacked in experience, they made up for in authenticity.
There’s not much of a plot to Polk County Pot Plane, though it was reportedly based on a true story. Oosh and Doosh get out of jail and find themselves being ordered to transport more drugs. They also rip-off their bosses and, in the end, there’s an attempt to steal the plane itself. For the most part, the film exists so that the police can chase Oosh and Doosh and several cars can be destroyed in the process. The minute that we see a group of people trying to transport a house from one location to another, we know that someone’s going to end driving through it and destroying the whole thing. That’s the type of movie that Polk County Pot Plane is. It’s low-budget, it doesn’t always make a lot of sense, and it’s definitely amateurish.
And yet, it’s also entertaining and rather likeable. The amateur vibe helps. Because the Watson brothers appears to have essentially been playing themselves, the film at times has a documentary vibe. For all of the silly comedy and the mumbled lines (with the Watsons especially sounding like King of the Hill‘s Boomhauer at times), it’s hard not to feel that this film probably gets close to the truth of what it was like to smuggle marijuana in the Deep South during the 1970s. The combination of car crashes and the film’ s stoner vibe becomes rather fascinating.
Polk County Pot Plane was also released under the title In Hot Pursuit. It can be found in several Mill Creek box sets and on YouTube!
Big Jims of the world, unite!
That was a fun movie. Great review!
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