W. W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975)

PG | 90 mins | Comedy-drama, Adventure | 21 May 1975

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HISTORY

       According to the 19 Jun 1972 Var and the 21 Jul 1972 HR, W. W. and the Dixie Dancekings was a Warner Bros. project, set to be produced by Marvin Schwartz and directed by Dick Richards in Memphis and Nashville, TN, in late 1972. Actor Burt Reynolds was added to the project soon after, the 14 Aug 1972 HR noted. Warner Bros., Schwartz, and Richards were not involved when the film was made two years later.
       Although the 31 Jan 1974 LAT claimed the film was scheduled to begin production in Nashville, TN, on 23 Feb 1974, principal photography did not begin until mid-Mar, according to the 19 Mar 1974 HR. The film completed shooting seven weeks later, as noted in the 7 May 1974 DV. The 5 Feb 1975 Var hinted of “offcamera discord.”
       According to the Oct 1982 issue of Classic & Custom magazine, “W. W. Bright’s” black and gold 1955 Oldsmobile Golden Anniversary Special automobile at the heart of the story did not exist. Doug’s Custom Shop in Nashville exclusively built three identical cars from standard 1955 Oldsmobiles for 20th Century-Fox. One car was destroyed by fire in the film, one taken to a museum in California, and the third, which was also used as a camera car, remained in Nashville, where it later appeared at custom car shows.
       Three members of the fictional “Dixie Dancekings”—Conny Van Dyke, Jerry Reed, and Don Williams—were country music stars. Mel Tillis, another popular country music artist, portrayed a gas station attendant. Walter E. “Furry” Lewis, who portrayed “Uncle Furry,” ... More Less

       According to the 19 Jun 1972 Var and the 21 Jul 1972 HR, W. W. and the Dixie Dancekings was a Warner Bros. project, set to be produced by Marvin Schwartz and directed by Dick Richards in Memphis and Nashville, TN, in late 1972. Actor Burt Reynolds was added to the project soon after, the 14 Aug 1972 HR noted. Warner Bros., Schwartz, and Richards were not involved when the film was made two years later.
       Although the 31 Jan 1974 LAT claimed the film was scheduled to begin production in Nashville, TN, on 23 Feb 1974, principal photography did not begin until mid-Mar, according to the 19 Mar 1974 HR. The film completed shooting seven weeks later, as noted in the 7 May 1974 DV. The 5 Feb 1975 Var hinted of “offcamera discord.”
       According to the Oct 1982 issue of Classic & Custom magazine, “W. W. Bright’s” black and gold 1955 Oldsmobile Golden Anniversary Special automobile at the heart of the story did not exist. Doug’s Custom Shop in Nashville exclusively built three identical cars from standard 1955 Oldsmobiles for 20th Century-Fox. One car was destroyed by fire in the film, one taken to a museum in California, and the third, which was also used as a camera car, remained in Nashville, where it later appeared at custom car shows.
       Three members of the fictional “Dixie Dancekings”—Conny Van Dyke, Jerry Reed, and Don Williams—were country music stars. Mel Tillis, another popular country music artist, portrayed a gas station attendant. Walter E. “Furry” Lewis, who portrayed “Uncle Furry,” was a well-known Memphis blues musician. His character was called “Uncle Boaz” in the novel and screenplay, but director John Avildsen told the 29 Aug 1974 Rolling Stone he used Lewis’ own first name, because there was no way to “improve on a name like Furry.”
       The Dixie Dancekings perform a song listed on the soundtrack album as “Goodnight, It’s Time To Go,” however the original title, recorded in 1954 by the Spaniels vocal group and co-written by lead vocalist James “Pookie” Hudson, was “Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite.”
       Early in the film, actor Burt Reynolds’ character, “W. W. Bright,” watches The Sun Also Rises (1957, see entry) at a drive-in movie and declares its star, Errol Flynn, his favorite actor.
       The “Gala World Premiere” of W. W. and the Dixie Dancekings was held in Nashville, TN, on 4 Feb 1975 to benefit the Country Music Association, according to the 6 Feb 1975 DV, the 17 Feb 1975 Box, and a 20th Century promotional album that featured recorded highlights of the evening. Nashville Mayor Beverly Briley, TN Governor Ray Blanton, most of the film’s lead actors, including Reynolds, and a dozen major music stars attended the event.

      The film begins with the written introduction: "Once upon a time in the carefree days of 1957, a legendary hero roamed the southern United States in search of romance and adventure...” End credits include the following information: “The producer wishes to thank the State of Tennessee and the City of Nashville for their outstanding cooperation and assistance.”
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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
17 Feb 1975.
---
Box Office
7 Apr 1975
p. 4770.
Classic & Custom
Oct 1982
p. 42.
Daily Variety
26 Mar 1974
p. 6.
Daily Variety
7 May 1974.
---
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1975
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jul 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1974
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1974
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jan 1975
p. 3, 13.
Los Angeles Times
31 Jan 1974
Section D, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
1 Feb 1974
Section F, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
21 May 1975
Section F, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
19 Feb 1978
Section A, p. 25.
New York Times
24 Jul 1975
p. 18.
Rolling Stone
29 Aug 1974
p. 22.
Variety
19 Jun 1972.
---
Variety
5 Feb 1975
p. 20.
Variety
20 Mar 1974
p. 26.
Warner Bros Rambling Reporter
Sep 1972.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Stan Canter Production
Produced and released by Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Men`s ward
Asst costumer
MUSIC
Mus sync man
Mus adapter
Mus adapter
SOUND
Prod mixer
Rerec mixer
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
New York casting by
Hollywood casting by
Nashville casting by
Scr supv
Prod secy
Transportation capt
Cinemobile unit
Driver
Driver
Catering
Loc film services
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
Song "Mama Was A Convict," composed by Tom Rickman and Tim McIntire, sung by Ned Beatty
Song "A Friend," words and music by Jerry Reed, sung by Jerry Reed and Dixie Dancekings
"Dixie," written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
+
SONGS
Song "Mama Was A Convict," composed by Tom Rickman and Tim McIntire, sung by Ned Beatty
Song "A Friend," words and music by Jerry Reed, sung by Jerry Reed and Dixie Dancekings
"Dixie," written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
"Hound Dog," words by Jerry Leiber, music by Mike Stoller
"Harbor Lights," lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, music by Hugh Williams, sung by Conny Van Dyke
"Johnny B. Goode," written by Chuck Berry, performed by Jerry Reed and Dixie Dancekings
"Goodnight, It's Time To Go" ("Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite"), written by Calvin Carter and James "Pookie" Hudson, sung by Conny Van Dyke, Jerry Reed, and Dixie Dancekings
"I'm Walkin'," words and music by Antoine Domino and Dave Bartholomew
"I'm In Love Again," words and music by Antoine Domino and Dave Bartholomew
"Bye Bye, Love," words and music by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant
"Blue Suede Shoes," written by Carl Perkins
"Send Me The Pillow You Dream On," written by Hank Locklin, sung by Conny Van Dyke
"My Bucket's Got A Hole In It," written by Clarence Williams
"I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water," words and music by Cowboy Joe Babcock, sung by Dixie Dancekings
"Blues Stay Away From Me," words and music by Alton Delmore and Rabon Delmore, sung by Jerry Reed and Dixie Dancekings
"I Need Thee Every Hour," written by Annie S. Hawks, sung by The Lefevres
"Softly And Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling," written by Will L. Thompson, sung by The Lefevres
"Black Mountain"
"There's Better Things In Life"
"The Losing End"
"Honky Tonk"
"Chicken Fat."
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 May 1975
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 21 May 1975
New York opening: 23 July 1975
Production Date:
mid March -- early May 1974 in and around Nashville
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
7 February 1975
Copyright Number:
LP44319
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses/Prints
Prints by De Luxe®
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In late 1957, W. W. Bright pulls his 1955 black and gold Oldsmobile Golden Anniversary Special into a rural Georgia gas station and robs it, but gives half the money back to the attendant. The good-natured confidence man explains that the Southland Oil System (SOS), which owns the station, makes a million dollars a day, but unfairly pays the attendant only $40 a week. In the spirit of class solidarity, the attendant accepts the money and agrees to tell police he was robbed by “rough-talking Yankees” in a Buick. Later, when W. W. sees a state trooper behind him, he takes refuge in a busy dance hall, where a country band called the Dixie Dancekings is playing. The trooper enters behind him, prompting W. W. to jump onstage, hold up $25, and announce a dance contest. As people hurry onto the dance floor, W. W. whispers to Dixie, the band’s vocalist, to tell the trooper he is their manager and has been with them all evening. Later, W. W. convinces most of the band members—Dixie, “Buttlerball,” “Junior,” and Leroy—he is a Nashville, Tennessee, promoter, but Wayne, the bandleader, distrusts him, until W. W. pretends to make a phone call to Nashville to book a show. They travel to Nashville and arrive during “amateur night” at Rosie’s Nashville Corral, which W. W. insists is the place where most country music stars are discovered. After their performance, the band finds their van has been towed from a no-parking zone. With the Dancekings and their instruments packed inside his Oldsmobile, W. W. pulls into a gas station, robs the attendant, returns half the money, and tells him to describe the robbers as ... +


In late 1957, W. W. Bright pulls his 1955 black and gold Oldsmobile Golden Anniversary Special into a rural Georgia gas station and robs it, but gives half the money back to the attendant. The good-natured confidence man explains that the Southland Oil System (SOS), which owns the station, makes a million dollars a day, but unfairly pays the attendant only $40 a week. In the spirit of class solidarity, the attendant accepts the money and agrees to tell police he was robbed by “rough-talking Yankees” in a Buick. Later, when W. W. sees a state trooper behind him, he takes refuge in a busy dance hall, where a country band called the Dixie Dancekings is playing. The trooper enters behind him, prompting W. W. to jump onstage, hold up $25, and announce a dance contest. As people hurry onto the dance floor, W. W. whispers to Dixie, the band’s vocalist, to tell the trooper he is their manager and has been with them all evening. Later, W. W. convinces most of the band members—Dixie, “Buttlerball,” “Junior,” and Leroy—he is a Nashville, Tennessee, promoter, but Wayne, the bandleader, distrusts him, until W. W. pretends to make a phone call to Nashville to book a show. They travel to Nashville and arrive during “amateur night” at Rosie’s Nashville Corral, which W. W. insists is the place where most country music stars are discovered. After their performance, the band finds their van has been towed from a no-parking zone. With the Dancekings and their instruments packed inside his Oldsmobile, W. W. pulls into a gas station, robs the attendant, returns half the money, and tells him to describe the robbers as “four big colored guys” in a pickup truck. After the band members settle into a boarding house, W. W. wins them over to his robbery crusade by convincing them he is robbing a soulless corporation instead of people. He also tries to seduce Dixie, but she declares she is a virgin saving herself for marriage. Not far away, inside the SOS skyscraper in downtown Nashville, ex-lawman and Fundamentalist preacher Deacon John Wesley Gore visits CEO Elton O. Bird, who wants Gore to apprehend whoever is robbing SOS gas stations. Since the miscreant “bewitches” attendants and changes shapes like Satan himself, Deacon Gore is the only lawman who can catch him. He agrees, but reminds Bird that he never works on Sunday, because Exodus, the first book of the Bible, warns: “Break the Sabbath and lose thy soul.” W. W. takes the band shopping for new stage outfits, then gets them into the empty Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry radio show, to give them the experience of standing on the legendary stage. Next, with the band in the car, W. W. tries to rob another SOS station, but the attendant chases them off with a shotgun. Later, under Deacon Gore’s interrogation, the attendant describes W. W., the band members, and the 1955 two-tone Oldsmobile Golden Anniversary Special, adding that only fifty were manufactured. Meanwhile, W. W. and the band attend the Grand Ole Opry to watch Country Bull Jenkins, then follow the star to nearby Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, where W. W. asks Country Bull if he can write the Dancekings a song. The country music star explains that since he is an “enterprise” with stockholders, he has to charge a minimum of $1,000 for any song he writes. W. W. promises to return with $1,000. Later, Deacon Gore appears on Brother Hester Tate’s gospel music radio show to announce that he is looking for a Satan worshipper driving a black and gold 1955 Oldsmobile. The next day, W. W. discovers that Elton O. Bird is cutting the ribbon at the opening of a Golden Goose Savings and Loan, a subsidiary of SOS. With the band in the car, he drives to the bank to steal enough to buy one of Country Bull’s songs, but the robbery goes awry. Wayne directs W. W. to drive to a rural junkyard owned by Uncle Furry, an elderly African American, who raised Wayne and taught him how to play guitar and sing the blues. Uncle Furry offers them a place to hide the car, but when Deacon Gore returns to Brother Hester Tate’s radio show and offers $2,000 for the whereabouts of the black and gold Oldsmobile, a boy listening on a portable radio sees it at the junkyard. Later, Deacon Gore arrives to arrest W. W., but Leroy chases him off with a shotgun. Realizing his beloved car can get him arrested, W. W. sets it on fire. He decides to leave the Dancekings in order to protect them, but when he hears them playing a stirring rendition of “Blues Stay Away From Me,” he decides to take them back to Country Bull for an audition. Though the country star is only mildly impressed with the Dancekings’ performance, he books them on his portion of the Grand Ole Opry. As W. W. steps outside for a cigarette, Deacon Gore lures him away with a replica of the 1955 black and gold Oldsmobile, then puts a gun to his head and orders him to drive to the Nashville police station. However, just as they arrive, Deacon Gore hears Brother Hester Tate announce on the radio that the time is one minute after midnight. Noting it is now Sunday morning, Deacon Gore gets out of his car, announcing that his soul is worth more to him than making an arrest on the Sabbath, but warns W. W. he will get him later. As W. W. drives away in his new 1955 Oldsmobile, he turns the radio dial to the Grand Ole Opry station and hears the Dancekings dedicate a song to him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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