Last American Hero, The / Hard Driver (1973)

Last American Hero, The / Hard Driver (1973)

“Hey, the race you saw was one by a car that was bought, torn apart, re-built and driven by me!”

Junior Jackson (Jeff Bridges) learns how to ride fast and hard while delivering moonshine on southern backroads. Soon he’s winning NASCAR races and rising to the top of his field.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Biopics
  • Car Racing
  • Gary Busey Films
  • Jeff Bridges Films
  • Ned Beatty Films
  • Sports
  • Underdogs

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this enjoyable little sleeper — based on a series of articles by Tom Wolfe — is a fairly standard (albeit factually inaccurate) biopic with an admirably “strong, natural performance” by Jeff Bridges. Director Lamont Johnson “has a feel for [the] racing milieu,” and there’s some genuinely exciting footage from actual NASCAR races which adds to the overall realism of the film. Unfortunately, however, “the material isn’t unusual enough to be really interesting.”

Redeeming Qualities:

  • Jeff Bridges as Junior Jackson
  • Gary Busey as Jackson’s brother

Must See?
No, but it’s worth watching just to see Bridges’ performance.


One thought on “Last American Hero, The / Hard Driver (1973)

  1. Not a must.

    One of those made-it-to-the-big-screen-but-is-really-a-tv-movie.

    One keeps wondering why it’s mentioned in Peary’s book.

    And why exactly is he the ‘last’ American hero? For starters, wouldn’t America have to vanish first?

    Bridges is good, of course. I can’t speak re: how accurate the story is, but director Lamont Johnson is to be commended for doing his best to disguise a somewhat-mundane script.

    Lots of car chase and/or racing sequences. …Oh, did I mention lots of car chase and/or racing sequences? If that’s your thing…

    The ‘love story’ resolution might be a bit of a surprise. Though it shouldn’t be.

    It does get better as it progresses, but…wouldn’t call it a remarkable cinema experience for any reason.

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