The 5 Best Documentaries on Popcorn Sutton (Ranked)

I gotta say it:

Legendary moonshiner Popcorn Sutton is ‘the Walter White of Appalachia’…a frickin’ American hero!”

He brews his illicit booze with a rebel’s spirit, like a real-life Dukes of Hazzard episode (yes, I’m that old).

His craft was an art, like Picasso, but with mason jars and copper stills.

Sutton kept this tradition alive in the mountains of Tennessee and West Virginia, where he became a modern folk hero.

If The Sopranos does a sequel in the backwoods, Popcorn plays Tony.

He dodges the law like an F1 driver avoiding a crash (though Popcorn favors an old Ford Model T)…until “them ole Revenue Officers” finally caught up with him (they don’t appreciate untaxed liquor).

Sutton’s life was a mixtape of moonshine, mischief, and Appalachian lore…a cocktail as potent as his own concoctions.

If you want to dig in more to the Appalachian region (beyond moonshine), check out The 16 Best Documentaries About Appalachia ranking I wrote (it covers coal miners, hiking and more).

Here are the top 5 Popcorn Sutton documentaries I know of:

1) This Is The Last Dam Run Of Likker I’ll Ever Make

As soon as this homemade hooch starts flowing in this cult classic doc (from 2002), you’ll be hooked.

This doc is so good that I dedicated a full Web page to it (with some of my favorite parts):

In “This is the Last Dam Run…”, we follow the lovable liquor-cooking outlaw as he curses up a storm and masters his mountain magic in the hills of Appalachia.

I’m talking secret ingredients, bubbling mash, and an epic quest to craft the smoothest ‘shine… before the law finally catches up for good.

And Popcorn doesn’t just whip up “white lightning”.

He regales us with stories from his glory days, narrowly escaping bumbling revenuers time and again in his souped-up hot rod.

The man is an American original!

With help from his wizened assistant JB, Popcorn squeezes every last drop of mischief and mayhem into his Appalachian misadventures.

But then he needs to ride off into the sunset (“Johnny Law” is on his tail…afterall).

So put on Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey River,” kick your feet up, and let the intoxicating stories and smooth liquors wash over you.

Just make sure the cops don’t catch a whiff!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to brew the only drink I make well: an Oat Milk Latte.

Watch the entire doc of”This Is The Last Dam Run Of Likker I’ll Ever Make” for free on YouTube at

2) The Last One

My #2 favorite Popcorn documentary is “The Last One” (2008).

This gem, starring the underground legends Popcorn Sutton and JB Rader, turned Maggie Valley’s best-kept secrets into household names.

Here’s the kicker: much of the film’s footage is a rerun from the cult hit “This is the Last Dam Run of Likker I’ll Ever Make.”

Neal Hutcheson, the mastermind behind the camera and editing, weaved this tale, but it was Popcorn Sutton’s brainchild. The titles are so similar, they’d confuse a GPS.

Flashback to June 2002. Hutcheson wraps up filming and hands “The Last Run” to Sutton, who starts peddling VHS tapes like they’re hotcakes in fall 2002.

Hutcheson, meanwhile, hits the film festival circuit, where, let’s just say, crickets chirped louder than the applause.

Undeterred, he rejigs it for TV, tossing in interviews and sketches for flavor. It hits SCETV in South Carolina in November 2008, then UNCTV in Western North Carolina in 2009, and finally, PBS stations nationwide.

Spoiler: it’s a hit.

Oh, and for the purists: “The Last One” was originally in a swanky 16×9 letterbox. Now, it’s remastered to the full glory of its original frame.

Cut to Popcorn Sutton. Before “The Last One” hit the big time, Sutton’s life was no walk in the park.

Two high-profile arrests in 2007 and 2008, thanks to a fiery mishap and a sting operation.

By the time the film was charming the socks off America, Sutton, in declining health, had made a tragic exit to dodge prison time.

Post-filming, Hutcheson and Sutton stayed thick as thieves. Hutcheson kept his lens on Sutton until 2009, culminating in the 2014 sequel, “Popcorn Sutton—A Hell of a Life.” While “The Last One” celebrates Sutton as an Appalachian icon, “A Hell of a Life” paints a more intimate portrait.

But as Hutcheson will tell you, Sutton was always more than what the camera captured.

For the uncut story, Hutcheson’s 2021 book, “The Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton,” is your go-to. I gotta think there will be a new book on Popcorn as he’s become a media sensation (10 mil.+ views on YouTube as of November 2023!).

Watch it for free on YouTube at

3) Popcorn: A Hell of a Life

Here’s the trailer:

A bit of history about “Popcorn: A Hell of a Life” (2014):

Before “The Last One” (below) hit the screens, Popcorn Sutton’s life had hit a rough patch.

In 2007, a fire at his still in East Tennessee led to a high-profile arrest. Another big arrest followed in 2008, due to a sting operation.

As “The Last One” began making waves and introducing TV viewers to the charismatic moonshiner, Sutton, battling declining health for years, chose to end his life, avoiding prison.

Sutton and filmmaker Hutcheson stayed tight post-filming. Hutcheson occasionally captured Sutton’s life until 2009, leading to A Hell of a Life”

A Hell of a Life shows Sutton on a more personal level. It’s him at his home…at events signing autographs

Yet, as Hutcheson admits, Sutton’s character was larger than any film portrayal.

FYI — Hutcheson’s 2021 book, “The Moonshiner Popcorn Sutton,” tells the whole story.

I don’t see streaming options. But here’s the DVD for sale:

4) Mountain Talk

Mountain Talk (2003) marked the debut TV appearances of Popcorn Sutton and Jim Tom Hedrick.

It paved the way for subsequent documentaries like “The Last One,” “The Queen Family,” “Popcorn Sutton – A Hell of a Life,” and more.

Once again, Hutcheson directs (and produces). He teamed up with the North Carolina Language & Life Project & NC State Humanities Extension Publications.

Southern Appalachia’s residents narrate their distinctive culture and dialect, showcasing their sharp wit, warm humor, and resilient spirit that have endured for generations.

Through songs, stories, and heartfelt interviews, the doc captures their strong sense of community and identity, even as their customs and heritage appear to be diminishing.

A favorite on PBS and the Documentary Channel, it highlights the diverse language and cultural tapestry of Southern Appalachia.

Watch it for free on YouTube at

5) The Popcorn Sutton Interviews

Thought lost like moonshine fog, these candid Popcorn Sutton interviews have been distilled from the original source reels.

If you haven’t already been sold on Popcorn’s wit, these interviews will sway you.

Originally brewed as the vintage CD “Living History,” the recordings now shine anew.

While snippets once surfaced in the films A Hell of a Life and The Last One, devotees can now sip the uncut concoction straight from Popcorn’s own jug!

Watch it for free on YouTube at The Popcorn Sutton Interviews

Thanks for reading!

-Rob Kelly