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Bayou (1957)

 -  Drama  -  June 1957 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 54 users  
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A New York architect meets a Cajun beauty in a remote bayou village.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Martin Davis
Lita Milan ...
Marie Hebert
...
Emil Hebert
Jonathan Haze ...
Bos
...
Etienne (as Edwin Nelson)
Eugene Sonfield ...
Jean Tithe
Evelyn Hendrickson ...
Doucette
Milton Schneider ...
Cousine
Michael Romano ...
Felician
...
Ulysses (as Tim Carey)
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Storyline

A community of Cajun fishermen living around a remote bayou includes one authentic beauty, Marie, who wants to better herself but must deal with the unwelcome attentions of storekeeper Ulysses. When she meets Martin Davis, visiting New York architect, they hit it off at once; but the sinister Ulysses is not inclined to suffer a Yankee rival. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Somewhere, a 15-year old girl may be a teenager... in the Cajun country, she's a woman full-grown! ...and every Bayou man knows it!

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

June 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Poor White Trash  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Repackaged as "Poor White Trash", The film ran for years on the south's drive-in circuit on a successful double feature with the similarly themed "I Hate Your Guts" (aka Shame). See more »

Connections

Followed by Scum of the Earth (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

BAYOU SONG
(uncredited)
Written by Edward I. Fessler
Sung behind credits by Dick Noel
See more »

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User Reviews

What a Wonderful Swamp!
27 February 2001 | by (New England) – See all my reviews

Many know the story of this notorious trash classic. United Artists released it as LEGEND OF THE BAYOU in 1956, and it went nowhere. Infamous exploitation guru M.A. Ripps acquired re-release rights, slapped on a new wraparound and title, and sent it out to drive-ins across America with a lurid ad campaign that whet the appetites of all but the dead ("Due to the abnormal subject matter depicted in POOR WHITE TRASH, no-one under 17 will be admitted, and armed policemen will be on hand at all times!!!") And there the legend ends for most people, who've never seen the film, due to reviewers dismissing it as "mediocre", "boring," "a real nothing," etc. But in fact, PWT is a well-crafted, steamy and gripping melodrama with gorgeous black and white photography and enough over-the-top performances to put it on anyone's cultfilm faves list. Graves, fresh from IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, is engaging as Martin, wimpy white-bread architect who learns he must fight, and fight dirty, to survive in backwoods America (and get the sexy chick). Milan is fiery and flirty as the sultry half-breed, speaking with a French accent but looking more like an Italian maid or Gypsy fortune teller. Tim Carey plays the villain, a nasty Greek jerk named Ulysses, in a performance that can only be described as breathtaking. U's Cajun dance, in which he grabs at himself up and howls like a wolf, looks like a cross between convulsive seizure and autoerotic stimulation, and is one of the most astoundingly bizarre moments in cultfilm history. And if that don't get you, how about everybody's favorite nebbish, Jonathan Haze, as Ulysses' deaf-mute flunky? Most of the remaining, peripheral characters talk in such a heavy (probably authentic) French/Cajun accent, you can't understand but half of it. Director Daniels really knows what he's doing. There's some great montage work and optical tricks worthy of the best foreign art film. There's an excruciatingly sensual rape scene, where Marie and Ulysses run through the dark woods and tangle in the muddy swamps, that's arty and sexual and very heavy (and also gives the film its notorious near-nude scene, as the busty Marie rolls around the mud in bra and panties). When, at film's end, Marie and Martin finally get it together, they do it in a shack during a curiously-timed hurricane, giving their animal passion a most apt and gripping visual metaphor. With this and A DATE WITH DEATH (the infamous subliminal motion picture) under his belt, Daniels is one of the unexplored enigmas of 50s indie filmmaking. And its all punctuated by a great, virtually avant-garde score by Gerald Fried, blending various ethnic musical motifs, including some percussive riffs that are downright experimental. Producer Ripps' addition to this flick, other than its healthy second life, is a silly wraparound wherein a wandering minstrel strolls through the shady glen, plucking a banjo and singing the title song, which sounds suspiciously like a rip-off of that old public domain chestnut, "Shortnin' Bread". Now, thanks to crystal-clear video, we can see, as opposed to being the laughable throwaway piece of trashfilm lore, what an astounding film this really is.


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