All of those ’70s Burt Reynolds redneck movies and their relations were shit, of course…and of course no one remembers or would dare to think about remaking a certain Lamont Johnson flick that did it first and best and pretty much inspired the blue-collar, wild-ass, hot-babe-riding-shotgun, moonshine-in-the-trunk, outrunning-the-local-fuzz genre. I’m speaking of a quality film about a scrappy southern guy with an appetite for speed and souped-up cars — a dude who makes a semblance of a living smuggling moonshine before becoming a famous stock-car racer — called The Last American Hero (’73). It starred Jeff Bridges, Valerie Perrine, Ned Beatty, Gary Busey and Art Lund (who gave a wonderfully moving performance as Bridges’ bone-weary dad) and it really captured the whole southern rural aesthetic without turning it into a pile of cheap cliches, like the Reynolds films did. A genuine classic and a huge Pauline Kael favorite, Hero was a film with vigor, heart, humor and dignity about hard-striving, sometimes hurting rural Americans. A good way of getting people to take another look would be to release it on DVD to coincide with the opening of The Dukes of Hazzard on 8.5. Are there any plans to do this? Appparently not. The Last American Hero was released only on VHS by Fox Home Video in 1997.