Old School Americana & Nostalgia


The 70’s Outlaw Action Classic That Inspired ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’

The 70’s Outlaw Action Classic That Inspired ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’

The Dukes of Hazzard rolled onto TV in 1979 and remained a cultural phenomenon for seven seasons. However, it was inspired by a 1975 film. Moonrunners is an action comedy film that features James Mitchum. The movie revolves around a Southern family engaged in bootlegging liquor. Mitchum had previously acted alongside his father, Robert Mitchum, in the popular drive-in film Thunder Road. The movie, set in the world of moonshine-running bootleggers, features fast cars and the thrill of evading federal agents.

The movie, filmed in 1973 in Williamson and Haralson, Georgia, emerged as a B movie during the thriving outlaw music era of the 1970s, which influenced numerous film releases of that time. Gy Waldron wrote and directed this film. Waldron drew inspiration from the life and tales of ex-moonshiner Jerry Rushing, who even makes a cameo appearance in Moonshiners. The Dukes of Hazzard fans will find the plot very familiar. The Balladeer (Waylon Jennings) narrates the story of cousins, Grady and Bobby Lee Hagg, who engage in bootleg liquor transportation for their Uncle Jesse of Shiloh County.

Of course, Waylon Jennings would return as the Balladeer in The Dukes of Hazzard. Many elements introduced in Moonshiners are directly transplanted into the series. The tavern “The Boar’s Nest” is in both. The relationship between cousins Bo and Luke Duke remains similar to that of cousins Bobby Lee and Grady in Moonrunners.

Both the film and show have a character named Cooter. However, in Moonshiners, Cooter is an antagonist, while he’s an ally to the Duke boys on the show. Both also feature a character named Uncle Jesse as the family patriarch. In Moonshiners and the The Dukes of Hazzard, the heroes use hunting bows tipped with dynamite because they can’t own firearms due to being on probation.

How ‘Moonshiners’ and ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ are Kissing Cousins

Meanwhile, several elements from Mooshiners make their way to The Dukes of Hazzard with some minor alterations. In the film, Uncle Jesse and the boys are known as the Hagg family, while their adversary, the county boss, is referred to as Hogg in the series. The Hagg’s stock car bears the name Traveller, a nod to Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s horse.

Meanwhile, the Dukes’ stock car is famously known as The General Lee. Beth Ann, a troubled woman, finds refuge with the Haggs in the film. Her character bears striking similarities to Daisy Duke, an existing member of the family in the show. Finally, in the film, Uncle Jesse’s mule is named Beauregard, which is also the name given to Bo Duke in the TV series.

However, all these similarities make sense. Gy Waldron, the writer and director of Moonshiners, created The Dukes of Hazzard. Perhaps true fans of the Duke Boys should consider Moonshiners the prototype of their beloved series.