Moonrunners: The Origins of The Dukes of Hazzard

The Dukes of Hazzard is one of the most iconic TV series in the history of American television. As a family-oriented show that combined white-knuckle action with strong comedy, it’s a show that is beloved by the young and old alike. But not a lot of people actually know the roots in which this show is based. It is actually based on a 1975 movie called Moonrunners. What are the roots that these 2 stories share? The similarities are actually more expansive than you’ll initially think.

Moonrunners is written and directed by Gy Waldron, the same guy who is responsible for The Dukes of Hazzard. While he is known as a writer/collaborator for shows such as One Day at a Time, The Dukes of Hazzard is considered as his lasting impression in the TV world. And the seeds of this legendary TV show are first sown at the movie Moonrunners. The filming of this movie began in 1973, and was scheduled to be released in 1974. But it actually awaited release for more than a year, which pushed the release of this B movie for 1975. It had its own highlights, even making it to the book The Greatest Movie Car Chases of All Time.

The heroes of this movie are Grady and Bobby Lee Hagg, who are cousins just like Luke and Bo Duke. To further highlight the similarities between these characters, both the Dukes and the Haggs are moonshine runners, and have an inclination for driving fast cars. Both pairs of characters are also under probation, which prohibited them from owning guns. To get around this limitation, they mastered the use of weapons such as bows. Both pairs own fast cars (the Dukes have General Lee, while the Haggs have Traveler, which is coincidentally the name of General Lee’s horse) and have the inclination to drive them real fast.

But beyond the main characters, there are other signs that point to the similarity between these 2 works. Both of them have an uncle named Uncle Jesse, who served as the patriarch for both families. Not only that, but both cousins are chased down by a sheriff by the name of Rosco Coltrane. And both Roscos are linked to people who are big in their respective communities. In Moonrunners, Rosco Coltrane teamed up with Jake Rainey, a local bar owner who wants to take hold of all the moonshine in the county. What’s more, Rainey, just like Boss Hogg, is considered as a former friend of Jesse’s. Last but not least, Waylon Jennings played the Balladeer role for both Moonrunners and The Dukes of Hazzard.

Those are just some of the most striking similarities between the movie and the TV show. In fact, other than the more mature-oriented content of Moonrunners, enthusiasts actually see these 2 shows as virtually similar. And as a final note, Warner Brothers approached Gy Waldron to produce a mid-season filler composed of 9 episodes based on the Moonrunners concept. And as fans will know later, the rest is history.

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