Friday, June 6, 2014

Jennie: Wife/Child (1968)

Directors: Robert Carl Cohen, James Landi


Composer: Michael Terr

Starring: Jack Lester, Beverly Lunsford, Jim Reader, Virginia Wood, Richard Cowl, David Allan, Don Epperson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Jennie is 'Lolita' and 'Candy' wrapped up in one!

Plot:  You know the story...young Jennie (Lunsford) is married to the MUCH older farmer, Albert (Lester).  Dissatissfied, she looks for lovin' with hubby's dim-witted farm hand, Mario (Reader).  Jennie doesn't stop there, she wants Albert's money so they plot to take it.  When Albert finds out he has plans of his own.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

This sounds like the makin's of a fun little exploitationer but it's only the beginning of one.  If only it'd been Russ Meyer that made this with Stuart Lancaster in the lead of Albert...wait, this sounds exactly like something he'd do...Hmmmmm.  Consider this a much tamer and less interesting version of a classic Meyer picture.  There's no nudity, although it certainly hints that there'd be...

Something else that makes this unlike a Meyer picture is the female lead in Jennie is weak in the beginning.  Throughout the film she becomes stronger as her hatred for her hubby grows as does her desperation to get away from him. The picture's less than an hour and a half (which helps) but it does take a 45 minute movie and nearly doubles it, creating some drag periodically.  It doesn't help that Mario is an idiot (boy, do I hate this type of character).

How funny could a Davy Crockett comic book possibly be?

Jim Reader plays it too doofus-y and stupid.  That hurts.  The rest of the performances are fine, actually.  Jack Lester reminded me of Stuart Lancaster but without his spark of fun and timing.  But there's one thing that felt weird and that's the lack of nudity.  It's hinted at a few times and there's a glimpse of Jennie skinny dipping but that's it.  It's one of those cases where having some would have help spice up the picture a little.  It's also shot in beautiful black & white and in the 60s which lends itself to exploitation pictures like this.  One thing you might find fun are the songs written specifically for the film which even include the character's names in the lyrics.  They're not all that great but they are kind of fun.  The birthday suit song is cute. 

The best part of the picture is when Albert has his Lolita bride and her lover chained in the basement and he's out digging their graves.  It's in the video above and it's a great sequence that looks like it's going to deliver a great payoff.  Unfortunately the film ends happily for everyone.  It's one of three hicksploitation pictures on a Something Weird Video DVD which doesn't have much for extras save for one trailer and the usual gallery of exploitation art with audio trailers.  Here's hoping that COMMON LAW WIFE (1963) and MOONSHINE LOVE (1969) are good enough to make the disc worth the purchase.

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