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The Dukes of Hazzard

By Tom Keogh

The Dukes of Hazzard was part of America's redneck fetish in the mid-to-late 1970s, otherwise evident in popular songs, movies, and television shows highlighting fast cars, truckers, citizens' band radio, moonshine, irreverent hicks, and clueless lawmen. Created by writer-producer Gy Waldron and inspired by his own 1975 bootlegging comedy, Moonrunners, Dukes milked seven seasons of material from the tale of a Deep South family of reformed whiskey-makers and their running feud with a greedy impresario and his chief lackey, a buffoonish, venal sheriff.

This three-disc set includes all 13 initial episodes of Dukes from 1979, a period fans fondly recall because some of the programs were shot on location in Covington, Georgia, rather than a Burbank back lot. Also noteworthy is that a couple of key characters, particularly Hazzard County's corrupt lawman, Roscoe P. Coltrane (James Best), hadn't gelled yet into permanent hayseed stereotypes and were arguably more interesting at the beginning. At the center of the action is Sheriff Coltrane's nemeses, cousins Bo Duke (John Schneider) and Luke Duke (Tom Wopat), a couple of wild boys buzzing through the backwoods in the "General Lee," a suped-up Dodge Charger. Bo and Luke are good at heart but have to behave themselves while on indefinite probation, complicating but not halting their efforts to vex Roscoe and his patron, diminutive bigwig Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke). The enmity runs both ways: Roscoe and Boss Hogg, with the aid of witless Deputy Enos Strate (Sonny Shroyer), dream up ways of eliminating the Dukes--including their wise old Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle)--but their efforts always backfire.


While every episode is a variation on the previous one, predictability is a virtue in Dukes. The series pilot, "One Armed Bandits," finds Luke and Bo, with help from their sexy cousin, Daisy (Catherine Bach), diverting slot machines (smuggled into Hazzard County by Roscoe and Boss Hogg) to sundry watering holes where they can raise money for Bo's girlfriend's charity. In "Money to Burn," Boss Hogg tries to frame Bo and Luke for robbing an armored truck, while in "Deputy Dukes," the unarmed guys are forced by Roscoe to escort a deadly prisoner from one town to another. The Dukes hit back in "Daisy's Song," investigating a scam that took Daisy for $50 and implicates, of course, Boss Hogg and Roscoe.

Yes, it's a show about rubes, car stunts, and a legacy of moonshine, but there's something comforting about it, in a tongue-in-cheek way.


The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)

Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke!

The General Lee is back and so are the Duke boys in this big-screen adaptation of the hit TV series, brought to you by Jay Chandrasekhar of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. Set in the "present day," the story follows Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) as they cruise around Hazzard County and wreck havoc in their classic 1969 Dodge Charger. Together with their scantily clad cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson) and moon shining Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson), the two good old boys battle the corrupt county commissioner Boss Hog (Burt Reynolds) when he and local Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (M.C. Gainey) threaten to take away the family farm. John O'Brien and Jonathan Davis penned the first draft of the film with additional rewrites handled by the Broken Lizard gang. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, All Movie Guide-



Jessica Simson, Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, General Lee, Dukes of Hazzard.... See hazzard.htmThe Stax Report: Script Review of The Dukes of Hazzard A look at the new big-screen update of the TV series. -


November 16, 2004 - Stax here with a review of the screenplay for The Dukes of Hazzard new movie! This 123-page draft is dated Oct. 24, 2004. The big-screen version of the 1979-85 TV series stars Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds, and Willie Nelson. Jay Chandrasekhar (Club Dread, Super Troopers) is directing from a script he co-wrote with his fellow members of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe. Filming is now underway in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Warner Brothers has slated the film for release on July 29th, 2005.


My own personal take on how I'd bring The Dukes to the big-screen can be found here. (Incidentally, how many of you knew that The Dukes was inspired by a 1975 film called Moonrunners? I didn't.)


The Dukes of Hazzard obviously focuses on the Duke family of Hazzard County, Georgia who have (not so secretly) been in the moonshine business for over a hundred years. The two good ol' boys of the show's theme song – Bo (Scott) and Luke (Knoxville) – carry on this bootlegging tradition, much to the chagrin of the corrupt "Boss" Jefferson Hogg (Reynolds) and his right-hand man, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.


Bo and Luke live on the farm of their Uncle Jesse (Nelson), a kindly but mischievous old-timer. Their drop-dead sexy cousin Daisy Duke (Simpson) works as a barmaid at Boss Hogg's roadhouse The Boar's Nest, which is the only legit bar in the county. She constantly uses her good looks to pry information from Rosco's dim-witted but sweet deputy, Enos Strate, that helps the wily Bo and Luke stay one step ahead of the law. They occasionally receive aid from mechanic (and Civil War re-enactor) Cooter and the touched-in the-head Sheev.


The usual cat-and-mouse antics between the Dukes and the law takes a shocking and tragic turn when Boss Hoss has Uncle Jesse gunned down in cold blood ... just kidding. No, the ever-scheming Boss Hogg has been cracking down on alleged moon shiners, using his authority to seize their land, farms that have been in families for generations. Problem is, only the Dukes are moon shiners; Hogg is simply framing innocent folks and seizing their land but for what purpose? That's what them Duke boys aim to find out, especially now that they're fugitives with the future of the family farm at stake.


Bo and Luke's quest requires them to look up a childhood friend, Katie Johnson, who now attends college in Atlanta. Both Bo and Luke were sweet on Katie once upon a time but they'll come to find out that life in the big city sure has changed her. The Dukes' race to save the day literally turns into one in Act Three, with a climactic set piece involving the annual Hazzard Road Rally featuring some Nascar drivers.


There's plenty of slapstick in this draft, with Bo and Luke constantly horsing around and playing pranks on one another like the overgrown kids they are. This schtick was amusing to read but I'm sure it'll play much better onscreen. Both Knoxville and Scott are certainly adept at slapstick, and Chandrasekhar's past efforts demonstrate he knows how to showcase such humor. Indeed, hiring the Broken Lizard troupe to bring The Dukes to the big-screen might prove to be the best decision made regarding this project.


Jessica Simpson as Daisy, Johnny Knoxville as Luke, and Seann William Scott as Bo Duke.


The story itself is simple enough, a comedic take on the familiar Western plot of greedy land barons running settlers off their land/robbing poor folks who can't defend themselves. The only ones who can fight back are the amiable populist outlaw protagonists. This is a thoroughly American theme, the kind of Robin Hood-esque myth that has given us such folk hero bandits as Jesse James and Pretty Boy Floyd. But that's probably far more historical context than The Dukes of Hazzard merits ...


Overall, I found The Dukes of Hazzard to be harmless fluff. It's admittedly dumb and trite but how could one expect anything else? It was better than I anticipated but still not in the league of such bad boys on the run comedy classics as The Blues Brothers and Smokey and the Bandit. Still, it was certainly no Dude, Where's My General Lee?. –

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