The Moonshine War

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The Moonshine War
Directed by Richard Quine
Produced by Martin Ransohoff
Screenplay by Elmore Leonard
Based on The Moonshine War (novel)
by Elmore Leonard
Starring Patrick McGoohan
Richard Widmark
Alan Alda
Will Geer
Music by Fred Karger
Cinematography Richard H. Kline
Edited by Allan Jacobs
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • July 1970 (1970-07)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Moonshine War is a 1970 American criminal comedy-drama film directed by Richard Quine, based on the novel of the same name by Elmore Leonard. It stars Patrick McGoohan, Richard Widmark, Alan Alda, and Will Geer.


A man called Son Martin (Alda) makes moonshine whiskey, owning and operating a profitable still in Prohibition-era Kentucky. One day, he gets a visit from an old Army acquaintance, Frank Long (McGoohan), who is now an Internal Revenue agent.

Long is willing to look the other way in exchange for a percentage of Son's business. But when he is unable to persuade Son to cut him in on the profits or even reveal where the moonshine is hidden, Long sends for the dangerous Dr. Taulbee (Widmark), who uses more violent methods in getting what he wants.

Taulbee and his henchmen go too far, killing Sheriff Baylor (Geer) and even Taulbee's girlfriend when she tries to get away. Long can see that he made a mistake, so he volunteers to help Son fend off the gang. Still outnumbered, Son finally tells Taulbee's men where the whiskey is buried in exchange for his life. But when the crooks start digging, they set off Son's buried dynamite instead.


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