How "Thunder Road" Became a Southern-Fried Cult Phenomenon
March 13, 2018 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Robert Mitchum's car-chase classic put the mountain South on the Hollywood map. On the basis of these posters with a deranged-looking Mitchum, anyone unfamiliar with the film could be forgiven for expecting a hot-rods-to-Hell opus with Mitchum playing another of his unhinged anti-heroes — a Cape Fear on wheels. Those who have actually seen Thunder Road, however, will see in these blaring broadsheets something quite at odds with this dreamy little movie, which shares many of the qualities of its star-producer-writer-uncredited director Mitchum: it’s brusque, languid, a little bedraggled, and ultimately oddly haunting [quoted from the article].

Those of us who know the film know it's about a man running shine through the Smoky Mountains, and so I thought this article about Popcorn Sutton, a real-life moonshiner would be of interest. The Last Moonshiner. It's written by one of Popcorn's daughters who was brought up in the Northeast and didn't find out her heritage until she was grown. There's considerable rancor and bitterness but also some interesting family lore.
posted by MovableBookLady (5 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I first saw this movie in 1960 at a drive-in in eastern N.C. It seemed to be on the bill regularly and was always well attended. One of my boyfriends ran shine every weekend in a specially fitted out car, and occasionally I went along for the ride. Moonshine in North Carolina was common. In Asheville, where we moved in 1963, the sheriff was in charge of all the stills in the county so the quality was high and there were "shine houses" all over where we could go and buy the liquor at all hours.Good times.
posted by MovableBookLady at 8:56 PM on March 13, 2018 [10 favorites]

Can’t remember how many decades ago I saw Thunder Road, but it made an impression. It’s remarkable that Mitchum wrote the story for the movie, wrote the songs for the movie, sang one of the songs, produced the movie, more or less directed it, and of course was the star. Just another day at the office, I guess.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:43 PM on March 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Isn't it reputedly relatively accurate? think I first caught it maybe 20 years ago on TCM, chasing a heavy Mitchum thread (Night of the Hunter, Out of the Past, etc). Anyway, great flick.
posted by mwhybark at 12:26 AM on March 14, 2018

Best fire I ever watched. The house was always pretty ominous but that was really something to see.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:37 AM on March 14, 2018

Great soundtrack
posted by destro at 9:14 AM on March 14, 2018

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