Moonshine County Express (1977)

PG | 95 mins | Drama, Adventure | 1 June 1977

Director:

Gus Trikonis

Producer:

Ed Carlin

Cinematographer:

Gary Graver

Editor:

Gene Ruggiero

Production Designer:

Peter Jamison

Production Companies:

Universal Majestic , Sunshine Associates
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HISTORY

       In the first week of Apr 1978, Moonshine County Express was a ratings winner--number eighteen--when it premiered as a CBS-television movie of the week, according to the 12 Apr 1978 LAT.
       Screenwriter Hugh Smith, credited onscreen as Hubert Smith, told modern sources that producer Ed Carlin gave him the film’s plot by suggesting a sure-fire formula: three girls inherit something. Two of Carlin's previous films, Mama's Dirty Girls (1974, see entry) and The Manhandlers (1975, see entry), also were based roughly on that premise.
      End credits include the following information: “Filmed on location at Nevada City and Grass Valley, ... More Less

       In the first week of Apr 1978, Moonshine County Express was a ratings winner--number eighteen--when it premiered as a CBS-television movie of the week, according to the 12 Apr 1978 LAT.
       Screenwriter Hugh Smith, credited onscreen as Hubert Smith, told modern sources that producer Ed Carlin gave him the film’s plot by suggesting a sure-fire formula: three girls inherit something. Two of Carlin's previous films, Mama's Dirty Girls (1974, see entry) and The Manhandlers (1975, see entry), also were based roughly on that premise.
      End credits include the following information: “Filmed on location at Nevada City and Grass Valley, California.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1977
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1977
Section B, p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
12 Apr 1978
Section F, page 16.
Variety
8 Jun 1977
p. 30.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Production Services by Sunshine Associates
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit cam
Key grip
2d unit key grip
Gaffer/Elec
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Const coord
Key carpenter
Prop master
Prop asst
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Ward coord
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus seq by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Eff ed
Eff Ed
Eff ed
Sd transfer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opt
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Transportation
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod services
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
COLOR PERSONNEL
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Shine
Release Date:
1 June 1977
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 1 June 1977
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Majestic, Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 May 1979
Copyright Number:
42886
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Local mob gunmen raid Pap Hammer’s moonshine distillery, killing Pap and his workers, stealing the whiskey, and blowing up the “still” with dynamite. Hearing gunshots, Pap’s daughter, Dorothy “Dot” Hammer, rushes to scene, but by the time she arrives, the killers are gone. After Pap’s funeral, Preacher Hagen suggests that Dot and her younger sisters, Betty and Sissy Hammer, sell the farm, and Sheriff Larkin advises the girls not to reopen the still. Pap’s daughters tell the sheriff he should arrest Jack Starkey, the local crime syndicate head, for their father’s murder, but Larkin says he cannot act without proof. The daughters decide not to leave the farm or work for Starkey’s moonshine operation. Hearing that Pap’s lawyer, Obie Green, wants a meeting, the girls drive into town in their pickup truck. On the way, local bootleg runner J. B. Johnson pulls alongside them in his Dodge Challenger racing car and tells Dot he wants a date, but she brushes him off. At the bank, Green reads the sisters a confidential letter from their father that says he buried thousands of gallons of whiskey near the house. Meanwhile, Sweetwater, Starkey’s right-hand man, tells J. B. that Starkey is looking for him at the hotel. J. B. arrives at Starkey’s room to find Preacher Hagen apologizing to the crime boss for not convincing the Hammer sisters to leave town. Starkey informs J. B. that it is time for him to make another whiskey run to Springfield. After J. B. picks up a specially rigged car from Harley’s garage and begins his run, federal agents give chase until J. B. leads them into a crash with a tree stump. Back at ... +


Local mob gunmen raid Pap Hammer’s moonshine distillery, killing Pap and his workers, stealing the whiskey, and blowing up the “still” with dynamite. Hearing gunshots, Pap’s daughter, Dorothy “Dot” Hammer, rushes to scene, but by the time she arrives, the killers are gone. After Pap’s funeral, Preacher Hagen suggests that Dot and her younger sisters, Betty and Sissy Hammer, sell the farm, and Sheriff Larkin advises the girls not to reopen the still. Pap’s daughters tell the sheriff he should arrest Jack Starkey, the local crime syndicate head, for their father’s murder, but Larkin says he cannot act without proof. The daughters decide not to leave the farm or work for Starkey’s moonshine operation. Hearing that Pap’s lawyer, Obie Green, wants a meeting, the girls drive into town in their pickup truck. On the way, local bootleg runner J. B. Johnson pulls alongside them in his Dodge Challenger racing car and tells Dot he wants a date, but she brushes him off. At the bank, Green reads the sisters a confidential letter from their father that says he buried thousands of gallons of whiskey near the house. Meanwhile, Sweetwater, Starkey’s right-hand man, tells J. B. that Starkey is looking for him at the hotel. J. B. arrives at Starkey’s room to find Preacher Hagen apologizing to the crime boss for not convincing the Hammer sisters to leave town. Starkey informs J. B. that it is time for him to make another whiskey run to Springfield. After J. B. picks up a specially rigged car from Harley’s garage and begins his run, federal agents give chase until J. B. leads them into a crash with a tree stump. Back at the farm, the girls find a trap door that leads down into a cellar filled with bottled whiskey. Dot tastes the alcohol and recognizes it as “real Prohibition liquor,” aged and worth thousands of dollars. They make plans to sell it, but realize they “need a man” they can trust. Betty and Sissy suggest J. B., but Dot refuses. Starkey and Sweetwater arrive at the house with offers to buy the sisters’ property and hire them to run a new still, but the girls turn their dog loose, sending the men running back to their car. Meanwhile, Sheriff Larkin stops J. B., inspects his car, and inquires about the extra gas tanks he finds underneath, but J. B. says he fills them with fuel so he can drive longer without stopping. Since J. B. is returning from his run and the tanks are empty, the sheriff lets him go. In town, Uncle Bill Hammer, Pap’s estranged brother, and town drunk, hints to J. B. that he knows something about the shootings at Pap’s still, but he is too intoxicated to elaborate. Meanwhile, Dot visits Tom Scoggins’ Bargain Barn general store, gives Scoggins a special deal on fifty gallons of liquor, and leaves him a sample bottle, along with a promise that she might personally help him drink another bottle after he makes the purchase. When J. B. later tries to romance Dot at a dance, she tells him she needs a good car, a mechanic, and a driver. Meanwhile, Starkey is angry because his liquor sales are declining while the Hammer girls are selling aged, ninety-proof whiskey. Holding up one of the sisters’ bottles, Starkey remarks that Pap must have hidden the liquor during the Depression. Starkey notes that his father, Henry Starkey, was Pap’s bootlegging partner, but Henry betrayed Pap to federal revenue agents and took over the operation. Later that night, as J. B. takes Dot home, several gunmen open fire on the farmhouse and kill the sisters’ dog. After Sheriff Larkin leaves, Dot admonishes J. B. for being irresponsible and asks him to help in their fight against Starkey, but J. B. begs off because he might get killed. The Hammer sisters drive to Harley’s garage and buy a custom Ford Mustang, which Harley promises will be ready the following night. Starkey approaches the sisters with an offer to buy their liquor, but when they refuse, Starkey enlists Sweetwater’s vigilante-style revenge. Sweetwater blows up Tom Scoggins and his store, then murders Harley by releasing a jack while Harley works beneath the sisters’ Mustang. After discovering the mechanic’s body, Dot hurries to J. B.’s trailer to tell him that his friend is dead, but leaves in disgust when she sees him with Mayella, the teenage town tart. Dot finds Uncle Bill and drives him to the farm to help guard it. J. B. arrives the next day in the sisters’ Mustang and tells Dot that he put Harley’s body underneath another car, so the sheriff would not connect the sisters with the mechanic's death. Convinced that J. B. is ready to help, Dot shows him the liquor in the cellar and admits she needs his expertise. J. B. takes Dot on a test run to show her what dangers to look for and how to outmaneuver other cars. Sweetwater gives chase through dirt roads, and despite J. B.’s instructions, Dot loses control and drives into a lake. Though Sweetwater is convinced they have drowned, J. B. and Dot swim to the opposite shore, where Dot cries and J. B. apologizes for not being more helpful. Meanwhile, Uncle Bill finds the trap door to the cellar, invites Preacher Hagen to see his “liquid goldmine,” and makes a deal with Sharkey. When Dot realizes that Uncle Bill has found the cellar, she and Betty pack the bottles into boxes. In the farmhouse, Sharkey, Sweetwater, Uncle Bill, and three gunmen take Sissy prisoner and drag her down into the cellar, but Dot and Betty escape through a passageway to a nearby gulley. Sweetwater restrains Sissy and rigs the cellar with dynamite, then leaves the gunmen to load the liquor, but as the men prepare to leave, Betty shoots them with her rifle while Dot slips back through the passageway and rescues Sissy before the dynamite explodes. Meanwhile, Sheriff Larkin arrests and tells J. B. that there are enough charges to send him to prison, and convinces him to gather evidence against the bootleggers. J. B. calls Starkey next morning, warning that he is using new evidence to secure a warrant against him. When Starkey orders Sweetwater to stop J. B., Sweetwater’s men set up roadblocks on the way to town, but J. B., driving his personal Challenger with Dot in the passenger seat, leads them on a chase. Dot takes the wheel after Sweetwater shoots J. B. in the arm, and he guides her along the winding roads until Sweetwater and Preacher Hagen plunge down a cliff to their deaths. Starkey and several other gunmen run Dot off the road, but as they approach her and J. B. with guns drawn, Sheriff Larkin and his deputies arrive and arrest them. A deputy finds a rare .32 Colt pistol in Starkey’s car, and Sheriff Larkin says he is certain it will match the bullets in Uncle Bill’s body, found earlier that morning. The sheriff tells J. B. to keep driving out of the county, and as he and Dot leave, they finally stop bickering and kiss.

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

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