‘Dukes of Hazzard’: The Show Was Based on a Movie That Came Out in 1975

by Keeli Parkey

While it was on the air – and even to this very day – “The Dukes of Hazzard” remains a very popular action show and sitcom. Following the Duke brothers and their antics in Hazzard makes for great entertainment – then and now.

“The Dukes of Hazzard” originally aired on CBS from 1979 until 1985. But, did you know that the inspiration for the popular television show was a movie that was released in 1975? Well, that’s what happened, according to information available on IMDb.com.

That 1975 move movie was called “Moonrunners.” Unsurprisingly, it was written and directed by Gy Waldron, who a few years later went on to create “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

According to IMDb.com the plot of “Moonrunners” is as follows: “Grady and Bobby Lee run moonshine for Uncle Jesse, who prides himself on his old-school moonshining methods, and refuses to buckle into the ‘big business moonshine’ of Jake, who controls these parts for New York mobsters.”

How Does ‘Moonrunners’ Film Compare to ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ Television Show?

Sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it? Interestingly, Waylon Jennings also played the balladeer in “Moonrunners” as he did in “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

So, how else does “Moonrunners” the film compare to the classic television show? There are some differences, according to IMDb.com. Instead of playing “Cooter” as he does in the television show, actor Ben Jones plays Agent Fred out of Chicago in the movie.

Another very interesting difference between the movie and the television show is that Bo, Luke, and Uncle Jesse had the last name Hagg in the movie. Famously, their last name is Duke in the television show.

The characters’ first names were also different. Luke Duke was known as Grady Hagg and played by James Mitchum in the film. Luke Duke was played by Tom Wopat on the television show. Bo Duke was known as Bobby Hagg in the film and was played by Kiel Martin.

Bo Duke was played by John Schneider on television. Uncle Jesse was still known as Uncle Jesse – with a different last name in the film and played by Arthur Hunnicut, according to IMDb. Uncle Jesse was played by Denver Pyle in “The Dukes of Hazzard” television show.

Creator Decided to Develop Movie Into Television Show

With “Moonrunners,” it looks like Gy Waldron and company had the beginnings of a great concept. Luckily for television fans, they got to expand that idea. Eventually, they were able to create one of the more memorable action sitcoms in the history of television.

It was during 1977 that Waldron went to Warner Bros. to request turning “Moonrunners” into a television show. The company agreed and Waldron got to work. Production on “The Dukes of Hazzard” reportedly began in 1978. The show was only supposed to last for nine episodes, but it ended up running for several seasons.

You can watch the opening credits from “The Dukes of Hazzard” below.