Thursday, May 24, 2012
WHEN HIS ENGINE ROARED...
"Let me tell the story, I can tell it all. About the mountain boy who ran illegal alcohol...His daddy made the whiskey, the son, he drove the load. When his engine roared, they called the highway THUNDER ROAD."
Shot in and around Asheville, N.C., this modestly-budgeted feature was co-produced by its star Robert Mitchum, who had penned the original story.
The movie was released May 10, 1958, just in time to gobble up summertime drive-in theatre playdates.
And as it turned out, millions of Southern citizens packed their local
drive-ins throughout the summer of 1958 watching Mitch run from the
revenuers with his trunk full of "shine."
At my family's Statesville, N.C. drive-in, where a movie seldom played more than three days, THUNDER ROAD (in July-August, 1958) played THREE WEEKS.
A full lot, two shows per night.
Its history at Salisbury and Rowan County theatres is astounding.
The movie played at local theatres 30 different times, as late as 1978.
Only GONE WITH THE WIND had more Rowan bookings, and it was released 19 years before THUNDER ROAD.