Gator (1976)

“Why they call you Bones?’ … ‘Because I tell them to!’” A true guilty pleasure, this ‘70s action-adventure flick appeals to me for several reasons: 1) Sequel to White Lightning (1973) with Burt Reynolds reprising his “Gator McKlusky” role; 2) Jerry Reed as sleazy villain “Bama McCall,” the criminal kingpin of corrupt “Dunston County”; 3) 7-foot, 3-inch–tall William Engesser as the Lurch-like “Bones,” Bama’s imbecilic sidekick; 4) The beautiful Lauren Hutton as Gator’s love interest, TV newscaster “Aggie Maybank”; 4) The Deep South locale (the film was shot on location in Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia); 5) The awesome title track, “The Ballad of Gator McKlusky,” written and performed by Reed, which features some classic lines such as: “He grew up eatin’ rattlesnake meat/And drinkin’ homemade brew.” For better or worse, Gator also served as Reynolds’ directorial debut. Forget about the plot, which basically revolves around ex-convict and good ol’ boy Gator going undercover for the feds to nab his old buddy Bama, and instead enjoy the opening boat chase through the Okefenokee Swamp, Reed’s phenomenally slimy Bama character, the genuine chemistry between Gator and Aggie, and the epic final fight between Gator and Bama as they totally beat the crap at of each other while destroying some old carnival booths on the beach in the process. The film’s soundtrack also features the catchy tune, “For a Little While,” by Bobby Goldsboro. On the downside, the film contains annoying performances from both Jack Weston (“Irving Greenfield”) and Alice Ghostley (“Emmeline Cavanaugh,” the “Cat Lady”). Richard Kiel (“Jaws” from the James Bond flicks) was reportedly the initial choice to portray “Bones.”

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