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Mopar Collector's Guide: May 1997

By: Randy Holden

The General Rides Again!

The new Dukes of Hazzard reunion movie is on its way to a television screen near you!  According to CBS, the air date will be sometime in May.  All we can say is keep an ee on your TV Guide and tape in your VCR.  As we've just seen with the Vanishing Point movie, the networks can adjust their schedules a lot faster than our printing schedule will allow us to inform you.

We've been talkingto a lot of people involved with the Duke's reunion movie project and we've gotten some interesting information about what's coming up.  As we related in our March, 1997 issue, the plot of the movie revolves around Uncle Jesse being in danger of losing the farm - it seems an evil land developer played by Stella Stephens wants to turn the place into a theme park!

The long and short of it is that Bo and Luke are forced into racing the General Lee to raise enoug money to save the farm.  With a basic plot like that, you can be assured of plenty of car chasing, racing, and cop car smashing.  And yes, there's plenty of jumping involved.

Filming began early last December and was wrapped up just after Christmas!  Now, for those of you not overly informed in the ways of Hollywood, that's an incredibly short time for a movie to be filmed!  Unfortunately, the film had a relatively low budget, so don't look for giant special effects of scenes that will take your breath away.  It'll be more like a two hour episode of the series we've all come to know so well rather than a movie.

In early January, a stunt crew went back to do the car jumping scenes and some of the wilder antics with the General Lee.  This took only a few days and did not involve any of the film's stars (other than the General Lee of course).

Since Sorrell Book (Boss Hogg) passed away several years back, Hazzard County is now run by his right-hand-man Roscoe P. Coaltrane (James Best).  According to insiders, Best didn't agree to do the movie until several days before filming began because of some things in the script he didn't like!

As odd as it may seem, Roscoe's trusty cohort Enos (Sonny Shroyer) in now a SWAT team leader with the LAPD!  He returns to Hazzard from Los Angeles for some reason.  We're not sure how that ties in with the Duke boys racing the General Lee to save the farm, but you can bet your fanny it does somehow.

On thing that struck us after seeing the few publicity still available from CBS was that our Duke boys have gotten older!  Daisy still looks pretty good (political correctness aside), but Bo and Luke aren't Duke "boys" anymore, they're Duke "guys".  Not that we haven't aged in the last fifteen years either, but it's just surprising to see them in the reruns on TNN every day and then see them today - it's kind of a weird time warp thing.

The only actor that hasn't aged is the venerable General Lee himself.  The '69 Chargers used in this reunion movie are very faithful copies of the originals.  In fact, Mike Streit of The Dukes of Hazzard Fan Club went to California during the filming for an up close look at the proceedings.

Four Chargers were used in filming the movie.  There is no pristine "close up" car in this production, just three decent ones and one very scruffy puppy!  At the close of filming in December, all the cars were still alive.  It is believed that the scruffy one was destroyed in the January filming.  The survivors have been retained by Warner Brothers, who made the movie for CBS.

We've no doubt the movie will be well received if the network gives it enough publicity.  Only time will tell if tis will spawn a series of reunion episodes.  We could be seeing the last roundup of the Dukes gang or the beginning of a renewed era; only time will tell.  One thing's for sure, if they do go on producing reunion flicks or revive the series, Warner Brothers is going to have a tougher time finding enough '69 Chargers these days!  Things have changed a little since the early 1980s as far as the cars' values are concerned!

Behind The Scenes!

The Dukes of Hazzard Fan Club president, Mike Streit, had the good fortune to go to lovely Burbank, California, to sit in on some of the filming of the Dukes reunion movie.  As it turned out, it was a good thing he was there, as he ended up helping with odds and ends making the film!

Mike arrived on the scene on early December '96 and was promptly shown three freshly painted and lettered '69 Chargers.  The cars were still unfinished when Mike arrived and he helped Warner Brothers' transportation department round up a few more of the correct style wheels.  He even got the "Dixie" musical horns for them!

Of the three Chargers being prepped when he arrived, one was a 383 car and one was a little cleaner 318 powered car used in this publicity stills shown here.  Mike's not sure, but the third car is also thought to be a 318.  The fourth car used for most of the stunt work was a very rough '68 Charger that was being converted to look like a '69!

Interesting, Mike was told by Skip Ward, the movie's producer, that John Schneider, Tom Wopat, and Catherine Bach, each wanted one of the cars used in the reunion movie!  When he left the set, the cars were still in use, so whether or not they ended up with the stars after filming isn't known yet.

Roscoe's ride, a '75 Monaco cop car, hasn't changed.  Mike enjoyed eating lunches with the good natured James Best, who's now the big cheese in Hazzard.  There was only on police car for filming, so if there's and cop car crashes, look for that to be recycled film from the television series.  Skip Ward confided to Mike that some of the chase footage from the old television episodes would be worked into the movie to save costs and cars!

To Mike's surprise, the much rumored cameo appearance by Waylon Jennings didn't happen.  In fact, Waylon's not involved with the reunion flick at all!  There's gonna be a new theme song and everything!  Tom Wopat, John Schneider, and country music star Steve Warner recorded a new Dukes of Hazzard theme that's completely different from the old one.

Mike says the whole team had a grand old time filming the movie and are genuinely close friends - no egos or personality clashes here.  Jokes and pranks prevailed between takes and even Catherine Bach sneaked p behind Mike once to surprise him while he was talking to some other guys!

The movie remained faithful to the morals and theme of the series, with just enough twists to bring it up to date.  And if Mike Strei, the biggest Dukes fan existent, gave it a thumbs up, then it's got to be alright!

Although Mike didn't get on screen, when you hear that familiar "Dixie" horn on the General Lee, remember, if it hadn't been for him, the thing might have just beeped!

For more information on the Dukes of Hazzard Fan Club, write to them at 1011 N. Lake St., Aurora, IL 60506-2415.