Jackson County Jail (1976) from Johnny Web

Today's low-budget Cormanfest.

I have mixed feelings about this one.

There's nothing especially good about the plot. It's a reworking of Deliverance. City-girl Yvette Mimieux has just decided to move from LA to NY, and she's going to cross the country by auto because "I've never seen my country".

Well, I guess it could have been worse. Good thing her country wasn't Russia. If she were Russian she'd have had to drive from St Petersberg to Vladivostok. Given the quality of Russian roads, the mountains, the tundra, the wild parts of Central Asia - THAT would be a real adventure. Probably take several years, and millions of rubles in bribes.

Oops, I guess I got distracted. I was humming "this land is your land" to myself. Back to the story. So everything goes wrong on her trip, and finally she ends up getting raped by the night jailer in some podunk town. And that's only the beginning of her troubles, because she ends up killing the night jailer and escaping in the company of a hardened criminal. About 100 law officers get on their trail, armed with nuclear weapons and submarines and helicopters and fighter planes, and Yvette's only weapon is a jagged shard from her compact mirror.

OK, I know it sounds like crap, and it is. Some of the minor roles were obviously acted by guys they picked up on the street, or somebody's cousin Melvin. (Point of interest: director Hal Needham had a minor role.)

My mixed feelings come from two quite powerful performances for such a schlocky movie. Mimieux starts off as some kind of a corporate bitch, and she kind of overdoes that, but her acting is unbelievably realistic in that rape scene. She had me completely convinced. She got all the rage and fear and humiliation just perfectly. And that jailer dude really tossed her around that cell. I'll bet she picked up some real bruises in that scene.

The really tough and complex portrayal came from Tommy Lee Jones as the hardened criminal. This may still be his best role.

Just in passing, Tommy Lee must be in contention for the world's biggest head, right up there with former Chief Justice Warren Burger and Oliver Platt. Tommy Lee might win for biggest head on a skinny guy.

Anyway, I guess you could say that two great performances were wasted in a cruddy movie, but they did so well that they managed to drive parts of the film forward convincingly.

Nudity: Yvette Mimieux's breasts were exposed briefly in the rape scene.

IMDB summary: 5.5 out of 10. No reason to argue with that low score. I enjoyed watching Tommy Lee, but not much else. Even Mimieux's nudity was in too painful a context to be sexy.

DVD info from Amazon. Not a great picture quality. Don't know whether to attribute that to the film or the transfer. No widescreen version, minimal extras (trailer, bios, scene selection, brief Corman interview with Maltin).

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