"The Last American Hero" Is Released
The Last American Hero (also known as Hard Driver) is a 1973 sports drama film based on the true story of American NASCAR driver Junior Johnson.
Directed by Lamont Johnson, it stars Jeff Bridges as Junior Jackson, the character based on Johnson.
The film is based on Tom Wolfe's story "The Last American Hero" which is included in The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. The film was favorably reviewed by Pauline Kael in The New Yorker, even though The New Yorker had a long-standing feud with Wolfe.
The film's theme song, I Got A Name, sung by Jim Croce, became a best-selling single.
Lamont Johnson's subtle direction graces this true-life success story about racecar driver Junior Jackson (Jeff Bridges), based on stock-car champion Junior Johnson. As a child in North Carolina, Jackson stays one step ahead of reform school until his father (Art Lund) is thrown in prison for moonshining. Seeing the error of his ways, Jackson begins to concentrate his driving skills, hoping to become a professional stock car racer to raise money to get his father released from jail. Jackson rises from the ranks into the highest rung of professional stock car racing, but Jackson finds his independent nature is compromised by the corporate realities of the professional sports world. The real Junior Johnson served as technical advisor on the film. ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide