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Moonrunners is a 1975 action comedy film starring James Mitchum, about a Southern family who runs bootleg liquor. It was reworked four years later into the popular long-running television series The Dukes of Hazzard, and the two productions share some similarities. Mitchum had co-starred with his father, Robert Mitchum, in the similar drive-in favorite Thunder Road 18 years earlier, which also focused upon moonshine-running bootleggers using fast cars to elude federal agents. Moonrunners, a B movie, was filmed in 1973 and awaited release for over a year. Its soundtrack reflects the outlaw music boom of the 1970s during which the film was released.

The story is narrated by the Balladeer (Waylon Jennings), who introduces and comments on the story of cousins, Grady and Bobby Lee Hagg, who run bootleg liquor for their uncle Jesse Hagg of Shiloh County.

Uncle Jesse is a Baptist who knows the Bible better than the local preacher. He has been a widower since Aunt Libby died 10 years ago. He still makes liquor, according to his "granddaddy's granddaddy's" recipe, in stills named Molly and Beulah. Every drop is aged two years, and bottled in glass (never plastic). The Haggs have been making their recipe since before the American Revolutionary War, and Jesse only sells to a friend in nearby Florence to ensure that his liquor is never blended with any other.

Bobby Lee (also called "Lee") is a smart-mouthed schemer, named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee. In the opening, Bobby Lee is placed in the Pikkens County jail for a bar fight at the Boar's Nest. On his way home, he helps Beth Ann Eubanks, who is on the run from family trouble in Mississippi. Uncle Jesse lodges her at his home, and Lee courts her.

Grady is a laconic "Romeo" who drives their 1955 Chevrolet stock car (#54, named Traveller after General Lee's horse). Grady is briefly mentioned as probably having a number of children around Shiloh and Tennessee (in the pilot episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, "One Armed Bandits", Bo half-jokes that half of the children in the local orphanage could be his cousin Luke's, although this and similar concepts were quickly dropped as the series found its more family-friendly tone).

The cousins take Beth to the next race at the local track. The other stock-car drivers include "good ol' boy" Zeebo, and Zeebo's lackey Cooter Pettigrew. Zeebo (driving #31) and Cooter (driving #28) team up to beat Grady in the race, leading to a moonlit bootlegger road race between Bobby Lee and Zeebo.

The county boss is Jake Rainey, a friend of Jesse's from the old days, when they both bootlegged for Jesse's father in 1934, and owner of the local bar and brothel. Jake has control of all the other moonshine in the county, and sells it to the New York syndicate (mob). He needs Jesse's supply to fill an order, but Jesse will not sell to Jake, since he would mix it with lesser-quality liquor.

To get at Jesse's supply, Jake uses Sheriff Rosco Coltrane to harass the cousins. At the same time, he uses Zeebo and Reba (Jake's wife who is having an affair with Grady) to goad the boys into a trap. During these events, Uncle Jesse calls Jake "hog" (effectively making Jake "Boss Hogg") as a put-down. Uncle Jesse dies after completing a moonshine run. The cousins, who are on probation and cannot own guns, use a bow with explosive arrows to put Jake Rainey's moonshining factory out of business.