Vintage Pulp Apr 16 2024
STRIFE IMPRISONMENT
No appeal, no parole, no mercy, no hope.


Today we continue our journey through ’70s exploitation cinema with Jackson County Jail, churned out of the grindhouse factory known as New World Pictures. Plotwise, Yvette Mimieux plays a Los Angeles advertising exec who leaves her cheating husband and finds herself at loose ends, but manages to score a job from a friend in New York City. She decides to get there by driving cross country, but passes through fictional Jackson County, located somewhere in or around Texas (a geographical fact we learn from a news broadcast that provides a Dallas Cowboys update). She's railroaded into jail and raped by the cop working the graveyard shift. Afterward, Mimieux manages to brain him with a stool and escapes with the help of hardened criminal Tommy Lee Jones, who early in his acting career (and with that monobrow of his) was already capable of making lines like this sing: “There's nothing wrong with being a crook. Everybody's crooked. I never met a straight person in my whole life. Whole goddamn country is a rip-off. And everybody in it.”

Jackson County Jail is sometimes labeled a women-in-prison flick, but it's a bit different for a generally low rent sub-genre because Mimieux was an established star, thirty-four years old with more than twenty movies behind her. The credibility she lends the film changes little about its basic purpose—titillation mixed with violence and an indictment of hick culture. Simultaneously, though, the filmmakers definitely don't go to the extremes of other women-in-prison dramas, in which we've seen women hung up by their hair. There are some viewers, we suspect, who wouldn't consider this movie a women-in-prison flick at all. We're fine leaving it out of the conversation too. The jailbound portion lasts barely twenty minutes of what is perhaps more of an outlaw movie, complete with Jones letting fly with this response to being told the police will kill him: “That don't matter. I was born dead.” Whether women-in-prison, outlaw, or counterculture, that's a damned good line. And Jackson County Jail is a pretty good movie. It premiered today in 1976
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Modern Pulp Sep 25 2022
MAN ABOUT TOWN
Matt Dillon gets on an unstoppable roll.


Above is a poster for the U.S. movie The Big Town, which is a drama released today in 1987, set in 1957, based on the 1967 Clark Howard novel The Arm. We like 1950s movies. And we like new movies set during the 1950s. It's always interesting to see an interpretation of the era, versus productions actually made during those years. The Big Town is a fun rendition, as pretty boy Matt Dillon plays a skilled young dice shooter who leaves podunkville Indiana for Chicago and experiences all its pleasures and pains.

On the pleasure side is femme fatale fan dancer Diane Lane, and bringing the pain is Tommy Lee Jones as a gambler who runs a crooked nightspot called the Gem Club—and who happens to be married to Lane. It's always a bad idea to bed a bad man's wife, but it's an even worse idea to break his bank for $15,000. Dillon does both. Later he tries to engineer a high stakes double-cross that will allow him to win the Gem Club in a craps game. Along the road from rags to potential there are plenty of subplots, including revenge, good girl redemption, and the struggle to retain's one's soul.

The Big Town is often called a neo-noir, and though any film with a crime focus and numerous night scenes tends to get that label slapped on it, in this case we feel like the designation is accurate. The movie deals not only with crime and gambling, but also takes passes at burlesque, racism, and the culture clash between ’40s style tough guys and new generation hipsters, with their sculpted hair and rock and roll attitudes. On the acting front, Dillon does a good job, and Jones is excellent as always, doing that unique thing he does. If you're looking for a fast period drama you can certainly do worse.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 21
1940—Smedley Butler Dies
American general Smedley Butler dies. Butler had served in the Philippines, China, Central America, the Caribbean and France, and earned sixteen medals, five of which were for heroism. In 1934 he was approached by a group of wealthy industrialists wanting his help with a coup against President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in 1935 he wrote the book War Is a Racket, explaining that, based upon his many firsthand observations, warfare is always wholly about greed and profit, and all other ascribed motives are simply fiction designed to deceive the public.
June 20
1967—Muhammad Ali Sentenced for Draft Evasion
Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was known as Cassius Clay before his conversion to Islam, is sentenced to five years in prison for refusing to serve in the military during the Vietnam War. In elucidating his opposition to serving, he uttered the now-famous phrase, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong.”
June 19
1953—The Rosenbergs Are Executed
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were convicted for conspiracy to commit espionage related to passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet spies, are executed at Sing Sing prison, in New York.
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