Sunday, January 14, 2007

Movie Review: Macon County Line 3 ½ Stars

Macon County Line is the film that answers that age-old party question: What if cousin Jethro Bodine of The Beverly Hillbillies was really a Southern cracker sheriff in the early Fifties, hellbent on avenging his wife’s brutal murder.

Max Baer, TV’s Jethro, wrote, produced and starred in this drive-in theatre cult classic, one of those wonderfully messy little movies that could have only been made in the 1970s. While its mosaic plot structure is undoubtedly simple, the characters are amazingly complex--uber-stereotypes of racist cops, psychotic drifters and juvenile- delinquents-with-hearts-of-gold pitted against each other by circumstance and misfortune.

Chris and Wayne Dixon (Alan and Jesse Vint) enlist in the Army to avoid serving time, and decide to spend the two weeks before they have to report for duty on the road. They pick up underage hitchhiker, Jenny (Cheryl Walters) and head through Georgia on their way to New Orleans. Their car breaks down in a podunk town where the local sheriff (Max Baer) “urges” them to be on their way. When the sheriff discovers the body of his slain wife, he mistakenly assumes it was the Dixons and pursues them relentlessly in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Meanwhile, the Deputy (Sam Gilman) knows the true identity of the killers, but arrives too late for the bloody conclusion.

Nothing is clean or comes easy in this odd film directed by Richard Compton. As cliched as the characters are, they seem to be more three-dimensional than most characters in films today, possessing as many unlikable traits as unlikable. Macon County Line is apparently based on a true story. It also inspired a sequel, Return to Macon County, which is likely not based on anything other than box office receipts from the successful original.

No comments: