Directors: Daniel Haller, Michael Pressman, Charles B. Griffith
Starring: Tanya Tucker, Dirk Benedict, Terri Nunn, Jimmy McNichols
Roger Corman is the king of cheap thrills and they don’t come any cheaper than this triple feature of vehicular mayhem and reckless lawbreaking. Sounds like a fun Saturday night.
Between Batlestar Galactica and The A-Team Dirk Benedict teamed up with Country Music entertainer Tanya Tucker and Berlin’s Terri Nunn to cash in on the popularity of Smokey and the Bandit and The Dukes of Hazard with this pilot for CBS. According to Wikipedia Berlin was still two years away from hitting the charts and Tucker was at a low point in her career so the idea of a steady work wouldn’t have appeared to be that big of a detriment to their careers at that point. Of course in retrospect you kind of have to wonder how things pop history would have played out if the show had been a big hit. Would the A-Team been the cultural milestone it is with somebody else playing Face, would Top Gun have blown as many thirteen year old minds without Nunn providing the vocals for Take My Breath Away, would Tucker’s singing career revived in the late eighties? Maybe we should be glad the show didn’t get picked up.
Georgia Peaches starts off with Dusty Tyree, Dirk Benedict, running from the cops in a Trans Am, I wonder where they got that idea? It seems that somebody has tipped the cops to his moonshine route. So after a couple of one eighties Dusty dumps his moonshine a la Robert Mitchem in Thunder Road. But Dusty one ups Mitchem, he ignites the drained moonshine and drives through the ensuing fireball to escape the roadblock. Roadblock averted, he dives into the Peach Garage to hide. The Peach garage is run by Sue Lynne Peach, Terri Nunn, who Dusty is able to charm into storing his car until the cops stop looking for him. Sue lets Dusty know that her big sister Loretta, Tanya Tucker, is coming home that night to take a break from her budding career in Nashville. After this bit of exposition the local crime lord Vivian Stark stops by and tries to convince Sue to use her garage to strip stolen cars. Sue is not above letting Dusty hide out but she draws the line at dealing in stolen goods.
Soon after Loretta is rebuffed and while the Dusty, Sue and Loretta are getting reacquainted the police show up to search the garage, seems that Mrs. Stark is playing a little hardball and has stashed a freshly stolen car or two in the Peach Garage’s back lot. After cooling their heels in the county lockup for a while, FBI agent Randolph Dukhane, Lane Smith, springs them on the condition they go undercover to help him recover a shipment of currency ripped off en route to the Federal Reserve in Atlanta. Of course the investigation ends up requiring Dusty to do some wild driving and Sue and Loretta to do a little singing.
So the setup is silly, ridiculous actually, and derivative, and Tucker’s acting is mediocre at best, but the three have chemistry are fun to watch, and the quality of the material about the same as what it’s aping. I can certainly think of worse ways to waste ninety six minutes, like watching Smokey Bites the Dust.
Smokey Bites the Dust
I don’t even know where to start with this movie. I usually start a review with a synopsis of the plot, but it really doesn’t matter in this case. There are car chases, a game of chicken between a helicopter and a Rolls Royce, car chases, Arab terrorists suppressing alternative fuel technology, car chases, homecoming football, car chases, eight year olds smoking cigarettes, car crashes, pratfalls complete with drum rolls and cymbal crashes, car chases, maniacally protective fathers, car chases, feuding sheriffs, car chases, midget concierges, car chases, a raging case of Stockholm syndrome, car chases and napping gorillas. I’ve watched this thing, I hesitate to call it a movie, four times now, it’s like picking a scab, I just can’t stop. It’s kind of like World War I, without the sixteen million dead and a worldwide influenza epidemic; you can’t help but wonder what the hell everybody was thinking.
The Great Texas Dynamite Chase
Ellie Jo, Jocelyn Jones, is in a rut, but that’s all about to change. Mornings don’t get much worse than being woken up by a phone call from work wondering where the hell you are, but that’s just how Ellie Jo’s begins. After throwing on some clothes and literally walking across the railroad tracks to her job as a bank teller she is promptly fired. Before she can leave the bank though in rushes Candy, Claudia Jennings, with a stick of dynamite, a stick of dynamite with a lit fuse that is. The fuse is rather long but before anyone can get any bright ideas she pulls out another stick with a much shorter fuse and a threat to light it too. Since Candy has her hands full she recruits Ellie to fill a bag with cash and then makes her exit by blowing up the sheriff’s car. As we follow Candy out of town we find out just why she robbed the bank, turns out the bank was about to foreclose on the family farm, but now with the stolen cash the farm is saved. Of course Candy can’t stay now so she hits the road. Meanwhile the excitement has spurred Ellie to action. She drops off her cat with a friend who prophetically yells out “You’re heading for trouble” as she hitches out of town. Ellie’s first choice of rides is poor, as soon as they get out of town the driver starts getting grabby. When Ellie objects, she gets dumped on the side of the road. Ellie’s luck turns for the better though when Candy spies her by the side of the road and stops to give her a lift. Still pumped from the excitement of this morning’s robbery Ellie convinces Candy to pull another job, so the two start a trip across Texas robbing bank after bank with a bigger and bigger posse after them.
This is definitely the best of the bunch, it’s a great example of the pulpy, exploitive fun Corman’s New World Pictures was capable of, there’s plenty of skin, explosions and car chases with two morally bankrupt but fun and loveable protagonists. The 1970 Playmate of the Year Jennings is definitely the star of the show but the spunky Jones holds her own. Jones and Jennings are great together and the rest of the cast is good enough to not be distracting.
These three films are presented on two DVDs, Georgia Peaches and Smokey Bites the Dust share one disc and The Great Texas Dynamite Chase gets it’s own. Georgia Peaches and The Great Texas Dynamite Chase are both presented in widescreen format and generally look pretty good. The transfer is excellent but there are some defects with the original source material like dust and scratches that come through. The Great Texas Dynamite Chase suffers a bit more from these print defects than Georgia Peaches. Interestingly the film that is presented here is not actually Georgia Peaches, there is a note in the DVD case that Shout Factory could not find acceptable materials to transfer for Georgia Peaches so the movie that is presented is actually the international theatrical release titled Follow That Car. Smokey Bites the Dust is presented in standard full screen format and it looks horrible. The exposure is off in every exterior scene, and I don’t remember any internal scenes. The actors are nearly always in shadow. The image is grainy, not the good kind, and harsh with very little detail. In a strange way it’s so bad that it sort of complements the horribleness of the content.
All three films are presented in the original mono. The quality is variable, there were several times that the music was distorted, but the dialog was always understandable. Considering the material the audio is acceptable.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The DVDs come in a single width clear DVD case. The insert art is consistent with Shout Factories other Corman editions. The artwork makes good use of the original movie posters which provides a bit of insight into how these movies were originally marketed. The only extras are a couple of movie trailers which remind you that showing the movies ending in the trailer is not a new phenomenon.
Just going by the numbers kind of short changes this set. Nobody is going to pick up a Corman Triple Feature package and expect Citizen Kane. Judged in context these are fun films, even Smokey Bites the Dust in a sick train wreck sort of way, and a great way to spend a night.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Movie 6/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10