THE MOONSHINE WAR seems to be a truly overlooked movie. From 1970, it is based on the Elmore Leonard novel(he did the script as well) and has a stellar cast. I can’t find any evidence it was ever released on DVD(might not be looking in the right places). Several places have links you could hit to notify you if it was released on DVD or Blue-ray. I can’t even find a trailer, though the clip at the end is sort of a Making-of, the type of thing that might appear on a DVD release. I saw this film on TV long ago(I think I had a self recorded VHS tape of it for awhile).
It’s a tale set in 1932. Prohibition is nearing it’s end and moonshiner Son Martin(Alan Alda) has a large store of ‘shine hidden somewhere only he and a couple of others know. Frank Close(Patrick McGoohan) is an old friend of Son Martin, a federal agent, a “revenoor,” to whom who Son had mentioned the store once. Close wants it and the killing he can make while he still can. When he can’t get Martin to let him in, he calls in Dr. Emmett Taulbee(Richard Widmark) and his gang to help.
The stage is set for the final battle.
The film had a lot of actors, some well known, some that would be later. It was the first time I remember seeing Alda(two years before M*A*S*H). Will Geer(Grandpa Walton) had one memorable line I still remember. McGoohan’s character comes up to a porch where Geer is setting with a pint jar in hand. “You confiscating that moonshine, Sheriff?” To which Geer chuckles and says, “You might say that, one sip at a time” Teri Garr plays a young wife who, along with her husband, is forced to strip when they encounter Taulbee and his crew in a restaurant when Taulbee takes a liking to the suit the husband wore and his girl friend wanted Garr’s dress. Harry Carey Jr., John Schuck, and Bo Hopkins also have small parts.
I’ve been trying to find a copy of this one for years. I liked it and perhaps my memories of it lend more gravitas than it warrants. But I thought it was a superior film.
The clip below is a making-of for the film and perhaps a good lead-in to the season premiere of JUSTIFIED tomorrow night which is titled The Moonshine War.