IMDb > Abigail Lesley Is Back in Town (1975)

Abigail Lesley Is Back in Town (1975) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 14% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Joseph W. Sarno (written by)
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Release Date:
September 1975 (USA) See more »
The Bad Girl Who Was REAL Good...
A seductive woman, who left her small fishing town long ago after being caught with another woman's husband, returns to shake up the place by seducing everyone, including the woman and her girlfriends. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order)

Mary Mendum ... Priscilla Howe (as Rebecca Brooke)
Jennifer Jordan ... Abigail Lesley (as Sarah Nicolson)
Eric Edwards ... Chester

Jamie Gillis ... Gordon Howe
Chris Jordan ... Alice Anne
Jennifer Welles ... Drucilla
Julia Sorel ... Lila
Susan Sloan ... Tracey (as Anne Keel)
Alex Mann ... Tyler

Sonny Landham ... Bo

Directed by
Joseph W. Sarno  (as Joe Sarno)
Writing credits
Joseph W. Sarno (written by) (as Joe Sarno)

Original Music by
Jack Justis 
Cinematography by
Bil Godsey (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Joseph W. Sarno (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Peggy Steffans .... assistant director
Sound Department
Phil Voza .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Mike Kantrowitz .... gaffer (as Mike Cantrowitz)
Ron Levitus .... assistant camera
Music Department
Jack Justis .... music performer
Other crew
Armand Weston .... production coordinator

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Secret Garden" - USA (alternative title)
See more »
USA:100 min (DVD release)
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

There is a scene in the movie (near a canal) that was filmed behind what was later known as the The Amityville Horror (1979) house.See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in A Life in Dirty Movies (2013)See more »


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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful.
This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us, 13 May 2010
Author: Dries Vermeulen (Nodriesrespect) from Brugge, Belgium

A mere couple of weeks ago, filmmaker Joe Sarno passed away, leaving behind a legacy of accomplished adult efforts on both sides of the explicit fence. Sex was more means to an end than goal in itself for him, providing another layer of characterization. The French, who take their grind-house fare more seriously than anyone else, deeming it worthy of the same critical analysis as the works of Godard, consider him seedy cinema's answer to Ingmar Bergman ! Reeking more of unneeded intellectual excuse for lofty film fans to get down 'n' dirty than a proper appraisal of Sarno's achievements, such monikers merely look good on paper. Simple truth of the matter is that he was an excellent director, in a measure not just limited to the "adults only" universe though his eventual output puts him smack dab in the middle of it. Like Claude Chabrol, to whom he could be much more fruitfully compared if such need be, his focus was firmly on the hypocrisy stifling the middle class from doing the things they wanted, but foregoing his customary distancing cynicism.

Credit Something Weird's Mike Vraney for first reviving interest in Sarno's body of work, unearthing believed to be lost '60s features like SIN IN THE SUBURBS and THE SWAP AND HOW THEY MAKE IT for new generations of trash cinema enthusiasts on video and subsequently DVD. When fans go gaga, the mainstream sooner or later takes notice, making Sarno one of the few disreputable directors to achieve a modicum of "real world" appreciation within his lifetime. In recent years, this begrudging acknowledgment has extended to include his simulated skin flicks shot both home and abroad in Scandinavia during the first half of the '70s but still fails to assess the excesses he was to commit later on, mostly as Karl or Erik Andersson. Now that French TV's culture channel Arte has ported over Retro Seduction's pristine copy of ABIGAIL LESLEY IS BACK IN TOWN for their upmarket R2 release in their "The Other America" series, can a Cinematheque double bill of THE TROUBLE WITH YOUNG STUFF and SLIPPERY WHEN WET be far behind ? Ah, if only.

Most elusive among his '70s gems, ABIGAIL LESLIE may be the most solemn of a lot that includes the much better known because more widely seen CONFESSIONS OF A YOUNG American HOUSEWIFE and LAURA'S TOYS. Providing a presumably unwelcome dose of angst-ridden reality for fantasy-starved flea pit patrons of the day, it must have made for a tough sell when compared to Sarno's comparatively unencumbered tales of marital infidelity, hence one possible explanation for its subsequent obscurity. Rising to the surface after three decades of absence, the movie can now rightfully take its place as the director's crowning achievement as well as one of the finest independently produced American films of the decade, an unbelievable statement to some perhaps in light of Sarno's habit of casting hardcore talent in non-explicit roles, all of whom rise to the occasion beautifully.

Though her name is in the title, Abigail Lesley's not so much the main character as the catalyst in other people's lives, having left the quiet little fishing hamlet of Baypoint in a huff years ago after being caught in flagrante with married Gordon Howe (the also recently deceased Jamie Gillis in an uncharacteristically subdued performance) by his unsuspecting spouse Priscilla, played to perfection by the exquisite Mary Mendum a/k/a "Rebecca Brooke", Sarno's magnificent muse who - according to persistent rumor - ended up marrying a Muslim extremist !

Their marriage never recovered from Gordon's spur of the moment transgression and she has been conducting a chaste afternoon romance with laid off fisherman Chester (Eric Edwards, better than ever) whose lonely sister Alice Anne (an excellent turn by lovely Chris Jordan, the actor's wife at the time, who sadly passed away from cancer at an early age) is left to pick up the slack as the family's sole bread winner. As if economic reality's not hitting these people hard enough, bad girl Abigail (the highlight of Jennifer Jordan's checkered career) returns to the place of the crime, hell-bent on wreaking even more havoc in retaliation for having been wronged.

The plot's twists and turns could be construed as pure soap opera if it weren't for the compelling earnestness with which they are presented, aided immeasurably by plausible characterizations and the convincing bleakness of a small town forever out of season, courtesy of another haunting Jack Justis solo guitar soundtrack and the autumnal shades of Bill Godsey's intricately composed shots. Skin display's frustratingly frugal - for a reason - during the slow build-up, only to explode by the halfway point when it's basically one sex scene after another. The masks of respectability come off as characters are forced to confront each other and, perhaps even more frighteningly, themselves. None of this comes off as tedious because Sarno has already worked up a full head of steam narratively by this stage. The seemingly liberated Abigail, whose carefree attitude hides unrequited longing, has simply put the inevitable clockwork mechanism into motion and now it won't stop until all the guilty secrets have come out.

In addition to those already mentioned, and since no good cast should go unpraised and porno people are rarely the recipients of such, Jennifer Welles has a field day as Priscilla's naughty aunt Drucilla, hunky beau (and future Kentucky Governor wannabe until his illustrious past caught up with him) Sonny Landham in tow. Julia Sorel, who registers strongly as hot to trot best friend Lila, was a minor league adult actress who turned up in Howard Ziehm's loop carrier SEXTEEN and Kemal Horulu's ambitious but flawed VIRGIN AND THE LOVER. Hiding behind the pseudonym "Anne Keel" and playing bitchy buddy Tracey is carnal cult favorite Susan Sloan, best remembered as the star of Robert Sickinger's lavish adaptation of anonymous Victorian porn novella A MAN WITH A MAID a/k/a THE NAUGHTY VICTORIANS.

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