White Lightning (1973) - Rotten Tomatoes

White Lightning (1973)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

When the police pick up Gator McKlusky (Burt Reynolds) for running moonshine, they agree to let him out of jail if he will help them capture the key figures in his moonshine operation. Since the suspected ring leader is the man who killed Gator's little brother, he agrees to help out the cops to get himself out of prison and get his revenge. ~ Iotis Erlewine, Rovi

Watch it now


Burt Reynolds
as Gator McKlusky
Ned Beatty
as Sheriff Connors
Bo Hopkins
as Boy Boone
Matt Clark
as Dude Watson
Louise Latham
as Martha Culpepper
Diane Ladd
as Maggie
Dabbs Greer
as Pa McKlusky
Lincoln Demyan
as Supt. Simms
Iris Korn
as Ma McKlusky
Martin Fay
as Sister Linda Fay
Richard Allin
as Treasury Agent
Bill Bond
as Treasury Agent
Dick Ziker
as Highway Patrolman
Buddy Joe Hooker
as Highway Patrolman
Kathy Finley
as Student
Sherry Boucher
as Sherry Lynn
Laura Dern
as Maggie's daughter
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for White Lightning

All Critics (6)

Shot through with radiant natural light and Reynolds's scalawag grin

October 21, 2010 | Full Review…

The film has plenty of rip-roaring car chases (Hal Needham was the stunt coordinator), but it also has genuine emotion, in the pain and anger the hero feels over the loss of his brother and in the incidental reactions and attitudes of almost every support

June 15, 2007 | Rating: 5/5

Burt, moonshine, car chases. What's not to like?

October 8, 2005 | Rating: 3/5

The quintessential "good ol' boy" picture.

August 17, 2001

Audience Reviews for White Lightning

White Lightning may not have aged well in the past 40 odd years, but in some ways, that's part of the charm. The start of the Burt Reynolds' "Hick Flick" run, and it has to be noted for that.

Gimly M.
Gimly M.

Super Reviewer


Both a hoot and a holler!

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

White Lightning is a terrific action/drama that tells the story of a hard-driving moonshiner named Gator McKlusky (Burt Reynolds) who is released from prison early in exchange for any help he can give the government with its case against his fellow moonshiners. Gator, however, has his own agenda and it has nothing to do with his altruistic nature. It seems that Sheriff J.C. Connors (Ned Beatty) of Bogen County is not only one of the biggest moonshiners in Arkansas, he's also responsible for killing Gator's brother. And Gator wants revenge. One of the coolest things about White Lightning is that it presents Burt Reynolds as an actor at the top of his game. This was a Burt Reynolds who seemed to actually care about the final product and not just yucking it up with his buddies on screen. White Lightning was made before Burt became a clown, mugging for the camera. That's not to say there isn't any humor in White Lightning ? it's just used judiciously. Burt is joined by phenomenal cast. In addition to Ned Beatty (who's perfect as the Sheriff), R.G. Armstrong, Bo Hopkins, Diane Lane, and Dabbs Greer give solid, memorable performances. In fact, I can't think of a single actor that bothered me. The movie was helped tremendously by the decision to film in rural Arkansas. I lived in the South all my life and everything from the locations to the sweat dripping off Burt's chin had a feeling of authenticity. It all felt real to me. Finally, the plot is just terrific, mixing in just the right amount of high speed car chases, brutal looking fight scenes, and dramatic conversations. It drew me in right from the start and held my attention throughout. Overall, it's a well-made, entertaining movie.

David Ladd
David Ladd

Super Reviewer

White Lightning Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss White Lightning on our Movie forum!

News & Features