Thunder Road (1958) Script

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Narrator: Each year, the millions of gallons of illegal whiskey manufactured in the southeastern United States represents millions of dollars in taxes lost to the American people.

The A&TTU, in their continuing service to their country, have within one year captured over 10,000 stills and impounded over 3,000 of the powerful vehicles which are used by the transporters...

Those wild and reckless men who transport illegal whiskey from its source to its point of distribution.

This is the story of a transporter and his opposite number...

An agent of the US Treasury.

( siren wailing )

( bangs )

( tires squealing )

( siren wailing )

( tires squealing )

( siren continues )

( siren continues )

( tires screeching )

( siren stops )

Raider One calling Raider Base.

Raider One calling Raider Base. Raider Base: Go ahead, Raider One.

Well, this one's gone on. Lost him and he's loaded.

He'll be driving a 1950 Ford two-door coupe, and he's got a racing mill under his hood.

Raider Base: What license number? Never mind that.

I'll bring you his back plate... It's hanging on our car now.

The kingpin again? That's right.

A real stampeder.

Over and out.

Well, his luck can't hold out forever.

Yeah, Mike. We've got time on our side.

Let's head back to the barn.

( Engine starts )

Singer: "Oh, let me tell the story"

I can tell it all About the Whippoorwill who ran illegal alcohol His daddy made the whiskey The son, he drove the load And when his engine roared They called the highway 'Thunder Road'

Sometimes into Asheville Sometimes Memphis town The revenuers chased him But they couldn't run him down Each time they thought they had him His engine would explode And he'd go by like they were Standing still on Thunder Road Thunder, Thunder Over Thunder Road Thunder was his engine And white lightning was his load Moonshine, moonshine To quench the devil's thirst The law, they never got him

"'Cause the devil got him first."

You got yourself a new car. Repaint job.

Hi, Robin. Hi, Roxy.

New bumper. Bumper snatcher gotcha.

Must've been a close one. Yeah, it was pretty close.

That was a good idea of yours puttin' that drop lever on.

Treasury agent down the line someplace with three bumpers hangin' on his car.

Whose car is that outside? Niles Penland?

Yeah. He just brought some stuff up to Ma.

You-all comin' to the dance tomorrow night, Luke?

Not tomorrow night, pretty gal. I'll be in Memphis tomorrow night.

But Robin here'd be glad to keep you company, wouldn't you, Rob? You had to high-speed 'em?

Yeah, I pushed her pretty hard, so you look everything over good.

That right rear tire is frayed. Change that.

Everything you touch, you keep a list on.

Don't fuss with me.

I reckon I know as much about this car as you do.

You know more about it, buddy, but I'm the man who has to sit in it.

How's your papa, Niles?

Oh, he's still got the misery in his legs.

I think it's that poison oak salve he's been using that's causing it.

Hi, Luke. How's it goin'? Oh, pretty fair.

You loaded? Yeah. For Knoxville.

How 'bout givin' Roxy a tote back down to the store?

Hm. It'd be a pure-D pleasure. Come on, Roxy.

You take it easy, Niles.

Watch him, Roxy. You got to watch him every minute.

( engine starts )

Where's Papa? Up the hill.

Why don't you buy yourself some new clothes, Ma?

You don't have to dress like you're goin' to a funeral all the time.

The money you make might as well be counterfeit.

You know if I buy anything I'd like to, the news will be all around.

And somebody will ask me where I got it. You know that.

Go on, get some sleep.

( sighs )

I have to make it real early in the morning, Ma.

If I'm not up by 6:00, give me a shake, will you?


"Good food, good meat... it's gettin' late, let's eat."

Ma: Now get up and do it right.

"Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the gifts we are about to receive."

( telephone rings )


This is her.


Thank you for callin', Roxanna.

Niles Penland was ambushed and killed last night outside of Knoxville.

Poor Mr. Penland.

He worshipped that boy.

You think the revenuers have started that kinda stuff?

No, they wouldn't do it. Never have.

I'd better go up and talk to Papa.

( whippoorwill chirping )

( twigs crackling )

Papa: Son.

Luke: Hey, Papa. ( whippoorwill chirping )

Papa: Well, son?

Niles Penland finally bought it last night.

Got ambushed and killed down on Knoxville Road.

So it begins.


Seen a corpse bird yesterday.

First one I seen in years.

Shoulda known it was an ill omen.

I peg the guilt squarely on Mr. Kogan.

Just exactly who is this Kogan fella, Papa?

Oh, Mr. Kogan is a man with a big idea.

Wants to combine all the stills in the valley, take all our makin's.

Claims he's got territory around Memphis and north Tennessee wrapped up now.

He says he'll guarantee us 4,000 a week.

You go on drivin', get the same pay as you do now...

Maybe more.

Well, he's free with his money.

Maybe not so free, either.

When he pays, he knows all the stills, all our stash locations, names of the retailers.

He come prepared.

Seemed to know who the folks were makin' moon around here.

After he left me, he talked to the Penlands, Buchanans, the Gouges.

Like me, they all said they'd let him know.

What do you make of it, Papa?

It's a shade harder than what I think.

Turnin' into the same kind of rimption they had down in Phoenix City.

No, sir, I don't think we ought to mess with Mr. Kogan's proposition.

You might be right.

( choral singing within )

"While I draw this fleeting breath,"

When mine eyes shall close in death When I soar to worlds unknown See Thee on Thy judgment throne Rock of Ages, cleft for me

"Let me hide myself in thee."

Minister: Let us pray.

I ask Your blessings on all these sinful sheep who are gathered under Your roof today to worship Thee.

And, Lord, be merciful to one of our recent departed ones...

Niles Penland, son of Jesse Penland.

And, O Lord, bless the men of this congregation who are unable to attend because of, uh, pressing business.

Amen. All: Amen.

And now let's sing Hymn 297.

( distant piano music playing )

( distant congregation singing )

( mumbling ) There ain't no point in makin' a long speech.

Niles Penland is dead.

If you'd get rid of that plug, Elmo, maybe we could understand what you're tryin' to say.

I was sayin', there ain't no call to make a long speech.

Niles Penland's dead, but he may not be the last one.

It appears that this fellow Kogan is out to put us in his pocket...

No matter how rough he has to make it.

And the revenue boys are tightenin' up.

Now, I want some opinions as to what we ought to do.

What does Luke think is the best thing to do?

He'd fight Kogan till hell freezes over.

Well, how should we go about it?

Well, Luke and me has discussed it a good bit.

We'd start by recheckin' every man who's haulin' or makin' moon in this valley, includin' still men, watchers, walkers and catchers.

And when we were absolutely sure of our men, we'd move every still to a scarce location, buy new transporter cars all around.

And the last thing, we'd have the drivers change their road approach to every delivery point, carry automatic weapons in every car.

That in itself is a violation, but Mr. Kogan intends to shoot us off the road if he has to.

Now, it seems to me you're... you're gonna have to come to this eventually.

Unless you're gonna try to fight a tornado with a peach tree switch.

Seems to me you're talkin' like spendin' a lot of money, Vernon.

Stacey, you make as much money as any of us.

If your folks would just dig up some of the cash they got buried in that back yard, you could equip a whole fleet!

( all laughing) Wait!

No offense, Vernon, but maybe your son is responsible for this grief.

He come out of the service with a pretty good record and went back to driving.

The only difference is that he's got a machine-gunner's outlook and death don't faze him much.

I admit he hasn't been busted in the moon traffic yet.

We're in a business, Jess. We have to keep up to date or go under.

( distant rooster crowing ) Is my son up to date?

Seems to me he went under.

I buried him.

Now that ain't necessarily Luke's fault.

It ain't?

He died tryin' to imitate Luke.

Let's check the facts.

Since Luke come back, arrests in this valley have doubled.


Because every sheriff and police officer from here to Memphis is after him.

The Treasury Department's got a special investigator in here to turn him up.

That's why the pressure's on, everywhere.

I'm sorry you feel the way you do, Jess.

Luke never intended any harm to come to your boy.

And whatever you all wanna do, me and Luke will abide by it. But don't forget...

And this hasn't been mentioned here today...

We're in an illegal business.

We've always had the government on our backs, and now we got another enemy, organized and shootin'.

Well, we'll have a show of hands.

Those opposed to Kogan's offers, signify it.

Those approving Mr. Kogan?

By majority consent, we do not accept.

Well, gentlemen, I guess that finishes the business.

( Music playing )

( whistling )

You change those plugs? Robin: No, just cleanin' 'em.

They checked out all right.

( Robin whistling )

You think I'd short you on gas?

No, but you might forget.

Luke, when are you gonna let me go with you?

You can't fire that thing and handle the wheel, too.

Not now, Rob. Trouble on the roads.

Did you phone? Yeah.

Roxanna said the road's clear.

( Music continues )

Sounds like they're having a real twistification down at the store.

Guitar music.

Okay, let me out, kid.

Luke? Good luck.

Thanks, kid.

( Engine starts )

( music continues )

Jed, I just can't dance another step.

Okay, Roxy. Let's... let's sit a while.


Oh, ain't this a lovely night?

Yes, it is, Roxy.

You know, Jed, folks are sayin' that... That this investigator, Barrett... he was sent in special because of Luke.

Imagine that.

You imagine it.

Roxy, I... I'm sick and tired of hearing about Luke.

Now, he ain't the only driver in the hills.

( faint rumbling )

Here he comes now.

You can always tell it's him when you hear those pipes of his come grumblin' down the road.

Big deal.

You goin' out tonight with Jed? Yeah.

He's ridin' empty up ahead of me. Oh, that's a shame.

After I put on my best shavin' lotion.

You smell sweet enough.

When you gonna get a job down at Mama Dunn's dance hall?

There's no need to get mincy about it, Roxy.

You don't have to shake that stuff all over yourself.

Maybe someday you'll come tippy-toeing around...

Even if you think you're the lord of the valley because you've been to a war and all those big towns...

But I may not be here!

Good night, pretty girl. You have a good time, now.

( toots horn )

( engine roaring )

( shatters )

( tires squealing )

( tires squealing )

( tires screeching )

( engine stops )

Got a little shot up, eh, Luke?

You burned some rubber, too. Yeah. Things are rough all over.

Pretty good bead.

How much you carryin'?

250 gallons... Clean and high proof.

You empty her out, will you, Mac? I gotta go do some phoning.


(whirring )

Hello? Hello, "Hi-Hat"?

Uh, Jim? Luke Doolin.

Can I talk to Francie, please?

Oh, she's on, huh?

You crowded?

Well, okay.

I'll be along a little later.


Hello, Harry?


Listen, Harry, I'm gonna need a new left rear window, left wind wing.



Well, maybe not in Memphis, but it was sure hailing hard and plenty up in Chalk Gap tonight.

No, I'm gonna need it now.


And, Harry?

If one of those slobs of yours so much as touches that motor, I'm gonna come down there and spray you all bright green.

All right, Harry. No, the keys are in it.

It's here at MacKenzie's. All right, Harry.


Eight, nine, ten... eleven hundred, twelve hundred, thirteen and fourteen hundred.

Okay? Right.

Just a minute.

That tank empty? Naturally.

Let's just check it and make sure, huh?

One of these days, cousin, you're gonna leave just a little too much in that tank.

It's gonna cost me two years in a federal jail.

Now I wish you'd remember that.

( singing ) "Won't you come home, my baby?"

Won't you come home?

I miss you day and night You have my promise, baby From this day on I swear I'll treat you right Forget that rainy evening When you walked out With nothin' but your brush and comb It's not the same I know I'm to blame Baby, won't you please come home?

"Forget that rainy evening..." ( men laughing)

"...when you walked out with nothin'"

But your brush and comb

"It's not the same..." This'll slay ya!

"I know I'm to blame Baby, won't you please come home?"

( raucous laughter) "Baby, won't you please Come home?"

( song ends )

( man laughing )

( choking ) She's tryin' to make a livin'.

If you wanna bray, go find yourself a barnyard.

Francie: "The night was young..."

You shouldn't do things like this.

After all, this is a nightclub and it's late.

People pay to get a little drunk.

All right.

I'll pick up the tab for "Moonface" and his friends.

Would you ask him to please quit yakking while Francie's on?


"The whippoorwill"

Sang sweet and low The moon was low

"Our hearts were high..."

Fellow here would like to buy you a drink.

Who? A fellow named Carl Kogan.

That's his hat on the table there. Tell him no.

Luke, you don't say no to a fellow like this.

Well, then, tell him, "No, thanks."

"Poor whippoorwill"

The tree is bare He wonders still Why you're not there While all alone Beneath the tree Where once you pledged your love to me

"My lonely heart..."

The man would still like to have a drink with you.

I said no.

Look. Here's his card.

A little friendly conversation never hurt anybody.

Well, maybe I'll talk to him, maybe I won't.

If I were you, I would.

( Francie singing ) "...where once you pledged"

Your love for me My lonely heart cries out for you The whippoorwill Is cryin'


Howdy... home folks.

Finally decided to come see the man, huh?

Yeah. I finally made the time.

Great. Let's go in.

That's right, man. We've got mills that'll blow that heap of yours right off the road.

( classical piano music playing )

Carl Kogan?

My name's Doolin.

I didn't mean to be rude, but there's, uh... there's a bird making a nest out there.

He's workin' very hard, that bird.

So I'm tryin' him out... Different kinds of music.

You know, that bird won't interrupt his work for trashy stuff.

I mean, give him one of those modern ballads with one of those choirboys mooing through it and nothin' happens...

He just keeps workin' away.

But then slam him, full volume.

With something real good... Wagner, Bach or Beethoven, and then he really takes off.

I'm kinda interested in that kinda stuff.

What's on your mind, Mr. Doolin?

I don't like bein' shot at.

Hardly anybody does.

And I don't like for people to slap my hat around till it gets all out of shape.

So we'll make it short and sweet.

I already control most of the action around here, and I'm takin' over Rillow Valley. Now, if we can talk business, you'll get the price I quoted your father, and we'll all be happy.

If not...

I'll take you over anyway.

Like you took over Niles Penland?

It was an accident.

Like you put two of my boys over the falls last night.

That puts you one ahead. I'm willing to leave it that way.

The biggest danger is, you know, is by mistake one of the alcohol tax boys gets knocked off.

Nobody beats a federal murder rap. They'll stalk those ridges until there isn't a still left in Kentucky or Tennessee.

And then you good folks from Rillow Valley can go back to raisin' bumblebee cotton.

You think it's that easy, huh?

There's no middle way.

Now how rough do you want it?

( alarm bell rings )

He bleeded me, and he bailed out the window.

( tires squealing )

A gray Ford proceeding north on State Street.

Violation 702. License, 5J 3174, Tennessee.

1950 gray Ford proceeding north on State Street.

Violation 702. He might just be our boy.

You mean with a new repaint job? Right.

Raider One to Raider Two. Raider One to Raider Two.

Make contact immediately. State Street cutoff.

1950 gray Ford. License, 5J 3174, Tennessee.

License, 5J 3174. Raider Base: Violation 702.

License, 5J 3174, Tennessee.

( tires squealing )

( squealing )

( screeching )

Good afternoon. I think I've got a bumper that belongs to you.

Well, why don't you give it back?

That's just like stealin', ain't it? I guess.

Now come out of there with your hands up high like the sky.

Turn around and put your hands against the car.

It's a tanker, but it's unloaded.

Get him in the car.

( engine starts, tires squeal )

All right, we'll pull Harding off that Ross Street stakeout at midnight.

Thanks, Jerry.

I'm sorry, Troy. Go ahead. That's all right, Rich.

You got a boy booked as Howard Ransom from Frankfort, it says on the blotter.

His real moniker's Doolin... Lucas Doolin.

That's the name on his army discharge.

The gray Ford he was driving is a tanker.

That's the maniac who went cartwheeling through the Johnson parking lot?

Yeah, that's the one.

We can put him away for a while, Troy.

I wish you wouldn't, Rich.

I wish you wouldn't.

I'd like to see him fined and turned loose so we can tail him out.

It might lead to something we're working on.

Well, it might be worked out.

Of course, the district attorney's office has to agree.

Well, give 'em a jingle.

Say, while I'm here, I'd like to talk to Ransom.

Put that Ransom down in interrogation.

Mr. Barrett of Treasury will be down to see him.

You'll, uh, pass the word up?

Hard shake in court, no sentence, so they won't know we're on 'em.

Right. See you, man.

My name's Barrett.

I'm from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division, Treasury Department.

We didn't have much time to talk when you were picked up, so I stopped by.

That car of yours was used for hauling illegal, non-tax-paid whiskey.

It's remodeled for that purpose.

Well, like I told you before, I bought it for the mill.

It's a sweet-runnin' car.

You, uh... you bought it in Frankfort?

Yeah, that's right.

You can't take it away from me, can you, just because I've been a blockhead?

No. We had no evidence.

We couldn't hold you on a federal charge.

You know, you could help us if you wanted to.

You're a handy boy.

( sighs ) Sorry. I'm not interested.

You're bucking the United States government.

There's a criminal conspiracy moving into Rillow Valley, and we intend to put an end to it before somebody else gets hurt.

I don't know what you're talking about.

Nobody's asking you to blow the whistle on your own people.

Just give us a lead on who's muscling in.

I still don't know what you're talking about.

All right.

You know and I know that you're a transporter.

That tank of yours was just recently emptied.

So far you don't have a record with us, but you're standing pretty close to the horse's head right now.

You've been mugged and fingerprinted.

That record goes into the Washington file and into all of our regional offices.

It's a net, buddy boy, and the pressure won't let up.

When you were picked up, you had over $4,000 in cash on you.

Nobody... not even the President of the United States...

Carries that kind of pocket money on him unless he's tryin' to duck somethin'.

You're taped.

You can change names, routes, cars, but eventually we'll nail you.

You'll stand up before a Federal judge.

You sure there's nothing you want to tell me?

Yeah, I got one thing to tell you.

I reckon you can do all you say, only first you got to catch me... if you can.

I'll do that.

( soft jazz music playing )

Luke: How 'bout that rain, huh?

I like the rain... except when you're driving in it.

Then it scares me.

You really miss me, honey?

Of course I miss you.

That's why that candle's always burning in the window.

Are you gonna say you don't miss me? All the time, honey.

I miss you all the time, and that's the truth.

I don't like the way you read that.

It's like we're running out of time.

Time is all we've got.

And my time is yours.

I'd just like a little more of you.

That's all.

Well, honey, it's like we're standing behind the clock with our thumbs just ready for the starter's gun.

We can't talk till the race is over.

This we've got... we've got this hour, this night, this rain, this music.

Honey, things aren't so bad as they actually are if we just accept them.

( music stops ) ( rain pattering )

You know, I remember when I was a little kid trailing my daddy up to the still through those mountain winters.

I suppose I knew then that what he was doing was contrary to somebody's law, but... my granddaddy had done it before him, his daddy before him and so on clear back to Ireland.

They held that what a man did on his own land was his business.

They didn't have any noble notions then, of course.

Still don't, but... when they came here and fought for this country and scratched up those hills with their plows and their skinny ol' mules, they did it to guarantee the basic rights of free men.

They just figured that whiskey-makin' was one of 'em.

I don't remember anything dark and shameful, I just recollect the dogwoods and laurels with the little tags of ice on the ends of 'em...

Just snip off clean like that when you brushed by 'em.

I was just a little ol' boy, followin' my daddy's footsteps up Sorrowful Mountain.

You know somethin'?

I love you.

I love you, too, honey. Truly in my heart, I do.

But I'm a big boy now.

When the government came and fetched my country soul out of Rillow Valley to go fight a war, everything just switched on me.

I remember I was a little confused by that sort of logic, but I did my best.

You always do.

Look, all I wanted was to just stay in Rillow Valley, but that's long gone now.

My head is full of so many other things.

I've been across an ocean, met all the pretty people, I know how to read an expensive restaurant menu, I know what a mobile is.

But you're at one end of the line, and Rillow Valley's at the other, and I'm movin' fast in the middle...

It's just the nature of my business.

Well, if it has to be like that, then take me with you.

With me? ( laughs )

Honey, every revenue agent in four states would like to catch me on that run.

The only reason they haven't made me till now is in my business I travel single-o.

But one of these days... one of these days I've got to fall.

Then put it down and stay with me.

I just want to be normal people.

I just wanna be somebody.

You are, honey.

That's the big trouble.

You are somebody... and I'm a whiskey man.

And there's another brand-new day coming up.

You just try that on for size and enjoy it.

Why aren't you in church? Oh, I had to mind the store.

Pa's over at the Rankin meetin'.

I thought you were supposed to be there.

Well, I, uh... I had somethin' else to do.

I been over talkin' to my brother-in-law about the Flat Creek house...

The one above the old mill.

Oh, it's, uh... It's a real pretty place.

Wouldn't take too much fixin' up either.

Got enough lived land around so's a fella could make out real good... farming.

If he worked at it.

You don't really like the moon business, do you, Jed?

All this sudden hankerin' for a place to plow.

Wouldn't be so bad to have a place of your own if... if you ever wanted to stop outrunnin' the cops.

You know, Roxy, I reckon I'd have to clear some of it out, but this place has got... It's got purple rhodo...

Oh, Luke, it's a beauty.

I'm available right now for a demonstration ride.

Not right now, pretty girl. Still got some tuning-up to do.

Maybe tomorrow, huh?

Some heap. Looks like you got her all gussied up.

How does she roll?

Well, the man at the shop guaranteed me 130 on the flat.

Corners great, too.

Say, I'd like to check the motor, see how you got it rigged.

Any time later. You rolling tonight?

No. Tomorrow, Memphis.

Say, those Illinois plates look a bit gaudy up there.

They won't be on it too long, cousin.

Y'all take it easy now, hear? That's right.

"Take it easy," the man says.

How are we gonna take it easy when he's got the pay set so high nobody but a lunatic could match it?

He's plumb crazy.

How are you coming along with those shackles?

They're all set. Okay. Slide your tail under.

We'll check that dump valve.

( splattering )

Luke: Okay? She's workin'.

Ought to empty about 250 gallons in two minutes.

You know, Luke, I think if I'd mounted that toggle switch right on the wheel, it would work a lot better.

Uh, you may be right.

We might try her one of these days.

You really like messin' around with those motors, don't you?

I'm a fair hand.

You know, that's not a bad deal.

Those big city newspapers are just filled with jobs for engineers.

I don't mean just cars... Turbo jets, ramjets, rockets.

You know, it's not gonna be too long before the engineers will have every house in these hills lighted with atomic power.

I don't know. I think that's a little bit over my head.

You know, Luke, if I took your old '50, gave it a new paint job, gear ratio...

Uh-huh, and drive it straight into some penitentiary.

You forget about that old '50.

Check board's right over there on the workbench.

As soon as you get done, I'd like to road test it.

( door closes )

Hey, Luke. What do you say, Jeddy?

Well, I've been smokin' over some of the things they said at the meeting, and, uh... I do need another crate.

You want the address of the fella I got mine from?

That wouldn't do me any good, Luke.

I got too much dough tied up in that thing now. If I switched...

Man, you could pay for the changeover in two weeks.

Well, I... I got somethin' else I need the cash for.

How 'bout a deal on the Ford? Well, it's on the record, Jed.

They know it's a tanker. So is mine.

Well, I've seen Kogan's cars. You do need new equipment.

Tell you what. Why don't you let me double up on the run till you get the money?

How 'bout the Ford? Man, it's not good enough.

That car's got five traffic violations against it.

Better than mine. Yes or no?

Okay. Take it.

Well, you didn't say how much, Luke.

Well, wait till you see how you like it.

Roxanna phoned a while ago.

Said you promised to take her for a ride.

The car ain't ready yet, Ma. Well, you ought to call her.


Robin's sayin' he's gonna take your old car.

Too late. Jethro Moultrie just bought it.

I told you before, Ma.

Robin's not goin' in the liquor business as a driver or anything else.

That'd be the finest present you could ever make to me.

Now we're in most of this territory here, but in Harlan... in Harlan we haven't got a single supplier.

Now, the Harlan volume isn't large, but the retailers here use it to keep our prices down.

It's that Doolin. He's fouling us up.

Don't worry...

He'll miss one of these times and take himself out.

We don't have time for that, that ridgerunning bush ape.

He's gonna hold out till he gets the fuzz down on all of us.

I think now is the time to put Mr. Lucas Doolin out of commission, and I mean permanently.

Now, Lucky here will make arrangements to wire him up next time he's in town.

That'll be a pleasure.

I like handling these bust-out characters.

The man who owns that place told me about that car yesterday.

It's got a moon tank built into it.

He noticed it while servicing it.

Same model as that Doolin was driving. It could be him.

You know, it doesn't seem reasonable, Mike...

A stampeder like this Doolin leaving his car out in the open all night.

I'm gonna go over and get me some cigarettes.

Hold the fort, "eagle-eye." I'm zeroed in.

Howdy. Oh, hi.

My car ready? Yeah.

Thank you. Right.

See you later, cousin. Yeah, man.

Slide over, Jed.

Man, why don't you get off my back?

Come on, Jed, the keys.

Roxy: Luke?

You could at least answer a body.

What are you doin' up here by Black Rock Mill?

Don't you know the "hants" will get you up here?

The hants ain't here no more, Roxy.

Too peaceful for them here in the mountains.

The hants get restless, they just up and move on.

They're down there on the roads now.

Niles Penland can testify to that.

Jed Moultrie, too.

Roxy: They're bringin' him back to the valley he never wanted to leave.

Luke: What they could find of him.

It could've been you, Luke.

Yeah, it could've been, but it wasn't.

'Cause there's always somebody around to take my place.

This time it was Jed.

Maybe next time... If there's to be a next time...

I can fix it so I'll have somethin' to do with the choosing.

There wouldn't be a next time, Luke, if you'd just quit.

( chuckles ) Quit.

Why don't I quit breathin'?

Just ain't gaited that way, Roxy.

So I'm afraid you'll just have to get yourself used to there bein' a next time... For somebody.

I hope that somebody doesn't turn out to be Robin.

Roxy, I told my mother, I told my father, I told Robin and now I'm tellin' you.

There's never gonna be such a time for Robin.

Robin's not gonna be a whiskey runner.

And I'll kill anybody who tries to make him one.

( thunder rumbles )

You'd better go on down. It's gonna start rainin' directly.


Can't we just wait a while?

The rain won't bother us none.

Roxy, why don't you just find yourself somebody that'll be content to punch a time clock, plow a field, have a mess of kids?

I would...

If they looked like you.


You're just never gonna have a lick of sense, are you, Roxy?

Maybe not.

But I know what I want.

Do you, Luke? What? Know what I want?

Yeah, I know what I want. I want to stop the clock.

Turn it back to another time in this valley that I knew before.

What time was that, Luke?

I don't rightly remember, Roxy.

I've forgotten.

Hello, Mr. Barrett. They're waiting for you.

Go right in. Thank you.

Hello, Troy.

Hello, Chief. I think you know everybody.

Yes, I do. Hello, gentlemen.

Sit down. Thanks.

I've just been briefing them on Harlan.

Bloody Harlan.

In less than a month, we've had four deaths in this area.

And yesterday, one of our agents... Michael Williams...

Was killed in that Memphis car explosion.

I'm sending 200 extra agents down, and we'll handle it the way we did Birmingham.

And if we have to, we'll ridge-walk every foot of Harlan County.

Local: Come again. Come right frequent.

We plan to.

Mighty wearing work climbin' up and down these hills.

Might be you'd like to step over to the house for a cup of coffee.

Uh, phone there, too.

You might call and see about gettin' your tire fixed.

No, thanks, friend.

We'll have that cup of coffee in my office.

And before we're through, nobody in Harlan County will even make a teacup of whiskey, so you might as well get used to that idea.

We've had you before, haven't we, Jimmy?

I did a mite of time a few years ago.

You fellas own this still or are you workin' it for somebody else?

Mister, I ain't gonna lie to you... nor the judge... but I promised the man who owns the still I wasn't gonna lie to him neither. That's the way she sits.

Okay, now you're all tagged fair.

You wanna spend the weekend in jail or you gonna report to the commissioner at 10:00 Monday morning?

Oh, we'll be there, sure as fate.

Hey, John? You got your records complete?

Yeah. Cut it up.

( bangs )

( cracks )

I'm worried about Luke.

He won't back off from nothin'.

A mite edgy.

His judgment might not be so good now, so I'm shuttin' down after this run.

So are most of the others.

Luke's makin' a run to Memphis tonight and that's the end of it for a spell.

So Harlan County's finally gonna shut down?

Never seen that in my day. Oh, you'll see her open up again.

We've been makin' whiskey in these hills nigh on 250 years.

We'll be back in business 'fore you know it, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as ever.

I just don't want nobody else to get shot out of business.

( faint rock 'n' roll music playing on radio )

( music continues )

( music continues )

( distant roaring )

( crashing, gunfire crackling )

( engine stops )

Really put her through the wringer, didn't you, Luke?

Kogan outfit again?

Yeah. They had me boxed in pretty tight this trip.

Hanlon 37, please.

Anyone who answers.

This is, uh, Henderson 6741.

( squeaking )

What's she gonna set me back, Frank?

Figure it out, will you?

Hello, Mama? Is Papa there?

Could I talk to him, please?

What do you think, Frank?

About 450. When will I get it?

Wednesday ought to do it.


Hello, Papa?

Papa, I'm in Henderson City.

They tried to box me in tonight.

Well, they tore my car up pretty bad...

Too bad to get it through those inspection blocks into Memphis.

No, I'm all right, but I'll be holed up here for about three days. You know where.

Now look. Please don't you or anybody else try to contact me.

You just might be followed.

That Kogan's playin' it pretty rough.

I'll be in Memphis Wednesday and I'll be home Thursday.

Now don't you worry about me.

I said, don't worry about me, Papa. I'll be all right.

I'll see you Thursday.


Long distance.

Get me State 1-6721 in Memphis, please?

This is Henderson 6741.

This Kogan fella...

When's someone gonna do somethin' about him?

Well, the Treasury man tells me I'm standin' pretty close to the horse's head, but you can believe that Kogan's standin' closer.

Hello, Francie?

Honey, I won't make it to Memphis tonight.

No, my car conked out on me.

It's gonna tie me up about three days.

I'm in Henderson City.

I don't know where I'm gonna be stayin' yet, but how 'bout you meetin' me Wednesday night at Foster's Cafe?

You know that cafe on Henderson and Cherry where we ate the last time?

You duck out after the first show, huh?

Well, there's nothin' wrong, Francie.

No. My car just conked out, that's all.

Honey, honest, I tell you. I'm all right.

Now, there's nothin' wrong. I'm fine.

All right, I'll see you Wednesday.


You Robin Doolin?

Yeah, I reckon I am.

I'm a Treasury agent. Troy Barrett. Alcohol, Tobacco Tax Division.

I wanna talk to you.

I'd rather talk to a skunk.

We're not really that bad, you know. You are in these parts.

Wait a minute. After all, I didn't try to trick you any.

I did come right out with it.

Your brother's a pretty big man in these parts, isn't he?

How come he didn't serve in the Army?

He served. He just...

He just what?

Look, boy, officially, I'm not supposed to be here talkin' to you.

Then what are you doin' here, Mr. Barrett?

Your brother Luke's not in Memphis, he's not here or any of his normal delivery points.

Somebody tore up two cars last night on the Chalk Gap road.

I think it was your brother.

If it was, he's still loaded, his car is torn up and maybe he is.

So use your head a little, will you, boy?

Do you know who Carl Kogan is?

All right, don't answer... You don't have to.

But I know that you know.

So do we.

We didn't, but we know now.

We know that he's the head of a big city operation tryin' to move in on Harlan County.

There's something else we know.

Niles Penland, Jed Moultrie, Mike Williams... a Treasury agent...

Lost their lives because of him.

There's another thing we know for sure.

Your brother's the one person that's stood in the way of Kogan taking over Harlan County.

What do you want of me, Mr. Barrett?

I want you to arrange to have me meet your brother.

I'll meet him anyplace, anytime, unarmed.

Use your head a little, will you?

We're on your side.

It's Kogan we want this time.

And there's just a chance that your brother might be able to make it a little easier for us to lay our hands on him.

If he's still alive.

And he won't be if he makes the wrong move.

There's another trap being set for him.

It goes into operation the minute he hits the road.

We got that much from the two Kogan men we tagged last night.

You gonna help me out? Agree to have me meet your brother?

Mr. Barrett, I don't think I can arrange that.

All right.

Here's my telephone number.

You call me if you want to or have Luke do it.

( engine starts )

( crickets chirping )

( knocking on door)

( knocking ) Luke? It's me... Robin.

What are you doing here, Robin?

I caught a bus.

Ma doesn't know where I am.

She tried to stop me, but I came anyway.

You took an awful chance.

When I talked to Pop at the store, I told him not to tell nobody.

You shouldn't have done it, buddy.

How 'bout yourself?

Today, after school, a man stopped me.


Luke, he's got no beef with you, just as long as you're clean.

But Kogan...

He's never gonna be clean.

All Barrett wants is for you to help get Kogan.

Keepin' kinda strange company, ain't you, Rob?

All the man wants to do is talk to you.

He said he'd come unarmed, anyplace you say.

( laughs ) Oh, no.

Nobody ever charmed me with a "play-pretty."

I don't make no deals with nobody.

Luke, the man's all right. Yeah.

All he's tryin' to do is stop you from runnin'.

He said his men are gonna have to tag you just to keep Kogan from killin' you.

Barrett's on our side.


Barrett and Kogan.

Look, nobody's gonna kill nobody.

I'm just makin' one more routine run, that's all.

Papa's got the still shut down and everything's cool.

I appreciate you comin' all this way, but everything's set, see?

Don't go, Luke.

Please don't go.

( sighs ) Don't badger me, Rob.

I've tried to explain it to you.

You just can't seem to get it through your thick head.

From Harlan to Memphis, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina...

I've got my name on one police blotter.

That's from tryin' to outrun those Kogan characters.

Otherwise, I'm entirely clean.

You wanna know why? 'Cause I don't fix.

I don't buddy up with one livin' soul.

Now you just ramble on back home and you keep your mouth shut about where I am and what I'm doin'.

This is my problem! You understand that?

Yeah, I understand.

I just came down here to help. I am your brother, you know.

Well, when brothers meet, do they quarrel with each other?

Now go on, Rob, git.


All right.

I'm gone.

( door slams )

Roxy, what in the world...?

I drove Pa's pickup down.

I told the landlady you were expecting me.

I've got some bad news for you, Luke.

You must've been pretty rough on Robin.

Couple of hours ago, he accepted an offer from Stacey Gouge to drive a load into Memphis tonight.

I thought I'd better tell you, Luke.

He's gonna drive from where to Memphis?

From Stacey Gouge's garage in Milledgeville.

Oh, no, he ain't.

He ain't drivin' inch one toward Memphis.

But your car is not here. It will be... in time to cut Robin off.

That takes care of tonight. Honey, will you quit fussing?

I told you before, Rob is not about to be in this business.

You just can't see for lookin'.

Don't you know you're the one that's gotta quit?

It ain't like that, honey.

Quittin's gonna be done in Memphis tonight.

So you time it to be at the city limits just a little bit before midnight.

Drop the woman and the kid off at Porter's Cafe, then drive into the drop exactly on time.

Now, if you're early, kill time just so you don't circle the same block too often.

You goin' someplace?

Luke, you can't stop me this time. You have been stopped, buddy.

That's what you think.

I asked you a hundred times to let me go with you, but you never did.

Now, I've taken this man's money, I'm gonna drive his car.

You don't understand, Robbo.

These fellas are tryin' to bum-rap you. That's one of Kogan's cars.

They just want to use you to bait the road for me.

Stacey Gouge, you dirty turncoat, you make one more move toward that shotgun, I'll make a skullcap out of it for you.

All right, Rob, pick up the shotgun and put it in the back of my car.

You can call your friend, Stacey. Tell him his plan worked.

I'm on my way.

Luke, I never thought... That's right, buddy. You didn't think.

Now you go on up to the bus stop and wait for your mother.

She'll be there directly. You go on home with her.

( engine starts )


Look, nobody's sore at you, buddy, so... easy, you hear?

All right, Luke.

( engine fades )

( coins clatter)

Woman: Operator. Long distance, I'd like Memphis.

Broadway 1-6624. Mr. Carl Kogan, please.

Broadway 1-6624.

Carl Kogan. K-O-G-A-N.

Lucas Doolin. Operator: Your number?

This is Milledgeville 349.

Operator: Deposit $1.25, please.

( coins clinking )

Man: Hello? Hello, Kogan?

Doolin. What's on your mind, Mr. Doolin?

You. You're on my mind.

You finally made the big mistake tonight, Kogan.

Niles Penland was a mistake.

Jethro Moultrie and Williams, that was a mistake...

That was a big mistake... A bad mistake.

But tonight, you made the big mistake...

You put your dirty, fat hands on my kid brother.

I swore I'd kill anybody that tried to make him a whiskey runner.

I'm on my way into Memphis right now, and when I get there, you're gonna find out that I meant exactly what I said.

( engine starts )

( music playing ) Good evening.

I was lookin' to find Mr. Barrett. Is he in?

No, I'm sorry, he's not.

Which Mr. Barrett did you want? Perhaps there's some mistake.

I want the one who's with the federal alcohol tax office.

Oh, well, it's the right house, but he's not here.

Perhaps I can help you. My name is Mary Barrett.

Won't you come in?

What's your name? Roxanna. Roxanna Ledbetter.

Roxanna. That's a lovely name.

You're a very pretty girl.

Won't you have some tea? I was just going to have some.

No, ma'am. Oh, do sit down.

Has Troy been flirting with you? Troy?

Oh, I'm sorry again. Troy is Mr. Barrett, my husband.

And most of his clients are not so attractive.

( sobs )

They'll kill him.

I've got to turn him in.

My family and all my kin would never speak to me again if they knew I was here, but there ain't any other way!

Now... why don't you tell me? Maybe it would help.

He won't ever stop unless somebody stops him.

He told me that Kogan's men would shoot him off the road if your husband's agents didn't get him.

And he won't quit. Now, wait.

Who is this "he" who's going to get hurt if he doesn't get stopped?

His name is Lucas Doolin.

He drives a new Ford.

Tennessee license, 5J-6389.

It's a car for moonshine liquor, and he's comin' into Memphis tonight.

And this Lucas Doolin... You're in love with him?

I reckon so, but that part of it ain't important as keepin' him alive.

Look, Lucky, my mind's made up.

That hardheaded hillbilly has caused us enough trouble already.

Now, tonight we're gonna take him out, and I mean really out.

Now get going.

( engine starts )

( tires squeal )

Hello, Troy? There's a girl here at the house.

She's told me some things you ought to know.

I think it's important.

It's about a transporter named Lucas Doolin.

Put out a condition red, please, Joe, for everything north of here to Kentucky for eight units, two to eight inclusive.

I'll go over with Edwards to knock out this Kogan.

We'd better put him out of action or there'll be a lot of trouble tonight.

Joe, call the state police commissioner and tell him I need his help in patrolling the north counties.

I'll pick up Richie and the warrant for Kogan.

When we knock him out, I'll keep you posted from the road.

Make this one loud and clear...

This one's for Mike Williams, right?


All Raider units, all points, condition red.

Joe on radio: This is Central Raider to all points.

Repeat... condition red.

( piano music playing )

Everything's coming off as I planned it, finally.

First, I handle that situation in Harlan...

Tonight will take care of that.

Then in no time, it will be Virginia, West Virginia...

Then watch me. ( music stops )

Carl Kogan? ( handcuffs click )

We've got a warrant for your arrest. I'm a businessman.

You've got no beef with me. Now what are these for?

Two first-degree murder charges, conspiracy against the United States government, illegal purchase and transport of explosives.

You need any more, buddy? We've got 'em.

Somebody made a mistake. That's right. You did.

( faint music playing )

Do you realize how rarely we eat together?

We never get to do everyday things other people do.

Honey, I told you before, it's the nature of my business.

One thing that does occur to me is that...

I seldom tell you how much you mean to me.

I don't complain, honey. I know.

Francie: I don't need the people or even the food.

I just want you altogether...

'cause you're the only natural man I ever knew.

( chuckles )

( sighs )

You know what happens to those heroes when they die, don't you?

They sit around in golden apartment houses, air-conditioned, in heaven... and grow heartsick for home. ( chuckles )

My problem is I couldn't place my home if I were heartsick for it.

I gotta find an excuse for everywhere I am.

Every time you touch me, my alibi just flies out the window.

You've just got me boxed in right in the middle.

It's just where I want you.

Let me have your purse, honey.

Now look.

Here's $9,000.

I want you to hold it 'cause it's too much money for me to be carrying right now.

It's gettin' rough out. You just go on back to Memphis and you wait till you hear from me. All right?

No, honey.

Don't say anything. Just sing.

Find some words to that pretty music.

( music continues )

"While all alone"

Beneath the tree Where once you pledged Your love to me My lonely heart Cries out to you The whippoorwill

"Is crying, too."

You better play something bright and snappy on that box, honey.

( coins clinking )

( rock 'n' roll music playing )

( faint engine roaring )

( engine roaring )

( crickets chirping )

Man on police radio: Raider Base to all units.

Observe radio silence.

Cars three, five and six, meet at Checker Point.

Wait there for further instructions.

( tires squealing )

( tires squealing )

( screeching, thumping )

( squealing )

( squealing, banging )

Raider Base: Raider units three, five and six, proceed to rendezvous three.

Raider Base: State unit 17, report to rendezvous K.

Raider Base: State unit 12, report to rendezvous K.

( tires squealing )

Raider Base: Attention, all cars.

Raider four should pick him up first unless he changes course.

Call unit four if you make contact.

( tires squealing )

( siren wailing )

( buzzing )

( buzzing )

Mountain people.

Wild-blooded... and death-foolish.

Yeah, that was Doolin all right. He was a real stampeder.

( Francie singing ) "The moon was low"

Our hearts were high You said...

'I will until I die.'

And while we kissed Beneath the tree The whippoorwill Sang happily Poor whippoorwill The tree is bare He wonders still Why you're not there While all alone Beneath the tree Where once You pledged your love to me My lonely heart Cries out for you The whippoorwill

"Is crying, too."