The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia poster.jpg
Directed byJulien Nitzberg
Produced byKatie Doering
Paige Hess-Hill
Johnny Knoxville
Julien Nitzberg
Priya Swaminathan
Storm Taylor
Jeff Tremaine
Jeffrey Yapp
StarringJesco White
Music byDeke Dickerson
Hank Williams III
Edited byBen Daughtrey
Distributed byTribeca Film
Release date
  • April 2009 (2009-04) (Tribeca Film Festival)
  • May 5, 2010 (2010-05-05) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes

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.


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 patriarch Donald Ray "D. Ray" White, as well as his rise to stardom as one of the most famous mountain dancers of his time. The illness of his widow, Bertie Mae White, is documented throughout the course of the film. Locals consider Bertie Mae "The Miracle Woman" because of her lifelong dedication to raising abandoned children. Throughout the film, Bertie is seen supporting her family despite her intolerance of their dangerous and reckless behavior. 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 act as a Greek chorus as they speak about the Whites, mostly criticizing 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 fatalistic attitude and a lack of fear of death. Various members recall violent fights with neighbors, family members, and other locals. Other crimes include 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 how D. Ray's frustration with his employers' corrupt practices led him to "outsmarting the system." D. Ray legally signed each of his children up for "crazy checks" during their early adolescence. Mamie discloses to the audience that each month, she (and all the other offspring of D. Ray and Bertie Mae) receive social security checks monthly from the government due to their inability to hold employment because of psychiatric disability.[1]

The Whites[edit]

Six of D. Ray and Bertie's 13 children are featured in the film.[2]

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 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 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.[3] Mamie's boyfriend Billy Hastings 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.[4] 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 have left Boone County at the time the documentary was produced. He moved to Minneapolis and is a house painter.[5] 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 just because of his lineage.
  • Sue Bob White – the youngest of D. Ray and Bertie's children; she is the mother of Brandon and Ashley Poe. Sue Bob has been arrested several times since the airing of the documentary, with her most recent arrest taking place in 2017.


  • Kirk White – daughter of Bo White; and sister of Derek Castle. Kirk's children, Monica and Tylor, are featured in the film. During the film she gives birth to Monica, who 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, locating her estranged husband, and convincing him to renew his vows with her in a Walmart flower department. Both were admittedly high on hydrocodone and alprazolam when they decided to renew their vows.

Critical Response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes it has an approval rating of 60% based on reviews from 10 critics.[6]


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 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 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 (Flat) Minor"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]


  1. ^ a b "The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia". Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  2. ^ Meet the Whites: Family Tree
  3. ^ Meet the Whites: Dorsey White
  4. ^ Meet the Whites: Mamie White
  5. ^ Meet the Whites: Poney White
  6. ^ Rotten Tomatoes: The Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

External links[edit]