The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

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The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia poster.jpg
Directed by Julien Nitzberg
Produced by Katie Doering
Paige Hess-Hill
Johnny Knoxville
Julien Nitzberg
Priya Swaminathan
Storm Taylor
Jeff Tremaine
Jeffrey Yapp
Starring Jesco White
Music by Deke Dickerson
Hank Williams III
Edited by Ben Daughtrey
Production
company
Distributed by Tribeca Film
Release dates
  • April 2009 (2009-04) (Tribeca Film Festival)
  • May 5, 2010 (2010-05-05) (United States)
Running time 88 minutes
Language English

The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia is a 2009 documentary film directed by Julien Nitzberg, chronicling the White Family of Boone County, West Virginia.

Synopsis[edit]

The film follows the White family over the course of a year in their daily life through first person interviews. The film mentions the details of the death of Donald Ray "D. Ray" White, the patriarch of the family. It also mentions D. Ray White's rise to stardom as one of the most famous mountain dancers of his time. Bertie Mae White, D. Ray's widow, is also featured; her illness is documented throughout the course of the film. Bertie is considered "The Miracle Woman" by locals due to her lifelong dedication to raising abandoned children. Throughout the film, Bertie is seen supporting her family despite her intolerance of their dangerous and reckless choices. The younger generations of Whites are followed to drug deals, criminal trials, hospital beds, and jail cells to recount the wild and outlandish events in their lives. A group of local professionals in Boone County speak about the Whites, acting as a Greek chorus. Most of them criticize the Whites and their negative influence on the community. [1]

Stemming from generations of coal miners working in risky job conditions, most of the White family possesses a fatalist attitude and a lack of fear of death. For the duration of the film, various members recollect violent acts with neighbors, family members, and other locals. Other crimes included larceny, prescription fraud, shootings, armed robbery, forgery, stabbings and parental custody. D. Ray worked in the coal mines during the scrip payment era. Mamie explains D. Ray's frustration with the corrupt practices of his employers and how it led him to "outsmarting the system." D. Ray legally signed each of his children up for "crazy checks" during early adolescence. Mamie discloses to the audience that each month, she (and other members) receive social security checks monthly from the government due to their inability to hold employment from psychiatric disability. [2]

The Whites[edit]

Six of D. Ray and Bertie's thirteen children are featured in the film.[3]

D. Ray and Bertie's Children[edit]

  • Jesco White – son of D. Ray and Bertie; a well-known mountain dancer, he was previously the subject of the documentary film The Dancing Outlaw.
  • Mamie White – oldest daughter of D. Ray and Bertie; girlfriend of Billy Hastings; she introduces the family at the start of the film. Mamie tells the story of her brother Dorsey White, who was shot in the face during a dispute with neighbors and lost an eye. He later died of an unintentional self-inflicted gunshot wound.[4] Mamie's boyfriend Billy Hastings is not related to the Whites, but he is a central figure in the family's past and present. His involvement in a dispute led to the shooting death of D. Ray White by Steve Roe.[5] His altercation with Brandon Poe is described in detail in the film.
  • Ona Fontaine White - 1951-1971 - daughter of D. Ray and Bertie; murdered by ex-husband Clyde Davis.
  • Bo White – daughter of D. Ray and Bertie; mother of Kirk White and Derek Castle.
  • Poney White – the only one of D. Ray and Bertie's children to leave Boone County. He moved to Minneapolis and is a house painter.[6] Poney states he felt he needed to leave West Virginia to improve his life, a decision he made after a prescription fraud conviction. Despite leaving the public school system in seventh grade, Poney is one of the few employed members of the family. His daughter, Virginia, recounts her inability to obtain employment due to her last name before they relocated. His son, Jerry, rehashes mistreatment from educators in the local school simply due to his lineage.
  • Sue Bob White – the youngest of D. Ray and Bertie's children; she is the mother of Brandon and Ashley Poe. (According to the website, Sue Bob was arrested shortly after filming ended, and has been in jail ever since.)[7]

Grandchildren/Cousins[edit]

  • Kirk White – daughter of Bo White; and sisters of Derek Castle. Kirk's children, Monica and Tylor, are featured in the film. She gives birth to a child during the film, and the child is taken away by Child Protective Services. Kirk checks herself into an alcohol and drug rehab facility in order to regain custody.
  • Derek Castle – son of Bo White; brother of Kirk White.
  • Brandon Poe – son of Sue Bob White; he is sentenced to 50 years in prison for the attempted murder of Billy Hastings.
  • Mousie White – eldest daughter of Mamie White; she is shown being released from prison.
  • Terri Lynn White – only daughter of Carly White; shown doing jello shooters at the courthouse. She's the tallest of the White clan.

Critical Response[edit]

The film received mixed-to-positive reviews, garnering a 63% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[8]

Soundtrack[edit]

No. Title Music Length
1. "Simple Gifts"   Greg Herzenach & Al Wolovitch  
2. "D-Ray White"   Hank Williams III  
3. "Jessico"   The Kentucky Headhunters  
4. "Mama"   Deke Dickerson  
5. "Train to Nowhere"   Deke Dickerson  
6. "Cha Cha Cha-Ching!"   Phil W. Gough  
7. "Oh Dem Pills"   Deke Dickerson  
8. "Straight to Hell"   Hank Williams III  
9. "Theme of Violence"   Deke Dickerson  
10. "Party at My Pad"   Deke Dickerson  
11. "Happy Birthday"   Jesco & Mamie White  
12. "Lightning When I Need"   Five Horse Johnson  
13. "No Rules"   GG Allin  
14. "Whose Baby Are You, Baby?"   Deke Dickerson  
15. "Sorrow And Pain [Acoustic Mix]"   Deke Dickerson  
16. "West Virginia White Boy"   Deke Dickerson  
17. "Diggin’ It"   Deke Dickerson  
18. "I Love My Job"   Deke Dickerson  
19. "Mountain Lullaby"   Benedikt Brydern  
21. "Pine Tree"   Ponty’s Camper  
22. "Long Day"   Jay Hill and The Dirty Coal River Band  
23. "Hook and Line"   Ponty’s Camper  
24. "Darkness Breeds Contempt"   Deke Dickerson  
25. "Fortified Wine"   Deke Dickerson  
26. "Big Fat Woman Blues"   Voodoo Whiskey  
27. "Asphalt Aisle"   Deke Dickerson  
28. "Double Dealin’ Man"   Heather Marie Marsden and Phil W. Gough  
29. "P.F.F"   Hank Williams III  
30. "Wedding March"   Richard Hardelstein  
31. "Wedding March Recessional"   Felix Mendelssohn  
32. "Plague of Angels"   Earth  
33. "William Morgan"   John Haywood  
34. "Coal Miner’s Daughter"   Mamie White  
35. "Coda Maestoso in F"   Earth  
36. "Wild Wild Party"   Charlie Feathers  
37. "Sick, Sober and Sorry"   Lefty Frizzell with Johnny Bond  
38. "Fugue for Two Guitars and Spoons"   Deke Dickerson  
39. "Moss on the Trees"   Deke Dickerson  
40. "Lonely Holler"   Deke Dickerson  
41. "Sorrow and Light"   Deke Dickerson  
42. "Mama [Instrumental Reprise]"   Deke Dickerson  
43. "Big Ass Happy Family"   Roger Alan Wade  

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]