The Last American Hero is not a TV show about a nebbish school teacher being given superpowers by aliens, that would be The Greatest American Hero. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can discuss just what The Last American Hero is. The 1973 movie is based on a story published in The New Yorker by writer Tom Wolf, and chronicles the life of NASCAR legend Junior Johnson. There, that was easy.
In the film, the character’s name is changed to Jackson and he’s portrayed by Jeff Bridges who at the time was just coming into his own as an actor. Costarring as Jackson’s love interest is Valerie Perrine, who had just come off of one of my all-time favorite films, Slaughterhouse Five. You’ll also recognize in the trailer a handful of solid character actors in supporting roles, including Ned Beatty and a pre-whacked-out Gary Busey. The theme song “I’ve Got A Name” became a huge hit for singer Jim Croce, although sadly he would die in
an auto accident a Beechcraft crash that very same year.
The film has a lot of fender-banging going on, and as it is a movie about racing, it didn’t do so well at the box office, bringing a little over half its production budget despite generally favorable reviews. See for yourself right after the jump.
You can rent The Last American Hero from all the usual suspects for a nominal fee, or if you jones to own it, Amazon will sell you a DVD for just shy of $100! I suggest the rental.