Burt Reynolds kicked off his directorial career with 1976's GATOR. A sequel to the huge drive-in hit "White Lightning" Reynolds reprises his role as moonshine running good ol'boy Gator McCluskey, this time working with the Feds to take down local bad boy Bama McCall (country singer Jerry Reed). Burt was the biggest star of the seventies at the box office playing good ol' boys and he has fun here, especially in some great action sequences. BUT...WOW. Gator has more tone shifts than some of the worst auditions on American Idol. One minute, you are enjoying a great boat chase through the swamps with some solid stunt work, the next you are watching high drama as Gator sees young prostitutes under Bama's wing, hooked on drugs and wasting away. Then, you are surrounded by a comical bunch of sidekicks, then suddenly we are watching a touching love story between Reynolds and Lauren Hutton, complete with running on the beach and soft focus photography by the fire, then two key characters get shotgunned blasts to the chest at close range.......it's as if Sybil was in the director's chair. Reynolds definitely got better as a director ("The End" and "Sharkys Machine") and he has a nice touch with action and comedy. Lauren Hutton is fine, Jerry Reed is pretty good and Charles Bernstein's music score is excellent (except for the horrible Bobby Goldsboro song over the end credits) and the final action scenes at the hotel and beach are the best part of the flick. In '76 this rocked. Now, its half a good flick and the other half....whew...... Gator earns a swampy C.
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