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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The enigmatically titled BAD GEORGIA ROAD is to film: as rot-gut
liquor, liberally laced with a large dose of kerosene, is to alcoholic
beverages. The VHS copy I rented was so old and sloppily put together
that the label on the cassette was misspelled BAD GEORGIE ROAD. The
movie's title is as ill conceived as the rest of the movie: the farm is
in Alabama, the only destination mentioned in the film is Birmingham,
Alabama, and there is no mention of any road named Georgia Road.
A New York feminist, Molly Golden (Carol Lynley), inherits her uncle's farm in Alabama only to find that it is the site of a moonshine business operated by hillbillies, Leroy Hastings (Gary Lockwood) and Arthur Pennyrich (Royal Dano).
Despite the fact that the movie persists in Southern stereotypes and commits the cardinal sin of using southern California to double for the great state of Alabama, I actually enjoyed the movie. (Note to Yankees: Southerners secretly enjoy the idea that you think we are all inbred, tobacco-chewing morons.) The movie has a subplot about running moonshine, but the story is truly about how Leroy teaches Molly that women cannot find happiness or sexual fulfillment outside the arms of man so blessed by his inbred genes that testosterone oozes from the pores of his Pennzoil stained skin. The climax of their romance ensues after Leroy tires of the platonic nature of their relationship and, in a bad approximation of a Tennessee Williams play, Leroy rapes Molly. Afterwards, Molly aims a shotgun at Leroy with the intent of killing him, but she's just lying to herself and the gun is not loaded anyway; so she decides to have sex instead because deep down she really enjoyed Leroy taking control of their relationship.
Long stretches of boredom are interspersed with brief moments of surprisingly funny scenes. After Molly calls Leroy a male chauvinist pig and then explains the definition of chauvinist to him, Leroy is unable to understand how that can be an insult and then replaces her suntan lotion with motor oil.
While Carol Lynley is functional at best in her role as the Yankee snob taught a lesson in Southern inhospitality, Gary Lockwood is near perfect in his portrayal of the redneck Romeo and Royal Dano is very funny as the religious moon shiner who imbibes in his product too frequently. The inevitable car chase scenes of any moonshine movie are tame to anyone who grew up on DUKES OF HAZZARD, (BAD GEORGIA ROAD's better looking cousin) that actually lives in Georgia (as portrayed by southern California). Like moonshine, BAD GEORGIA ROAD may be hard to swallow for some, but perfectly fits the tastes of others. If you would consider a velvet painting of Elvis a work of art, then BAD GEORGIA ROAD may appeal to you.
I never caught the end of this, so I can't spoil it to you. Molly Golden is a New York socialite, whatever that is, who inherits an uncle's farm in Alabama. She thinks it will be like the rest of rural America: boring. When she gets there, she finds that her uncle had unpaid feed bills, etc., and that she is stuck with a farm that would be hard to sell for much money. "Most folks around here don't buy land: they inherit it." Arthur Pennyrich, the religious old moonshiner, tells her about the money to be made by keeping her uncle's shine business going. "You just take a little cornmeal, a little malt, ..." Leroy Hastings, the runner, is a crude clod who even eats fried eggs with his bare hands. He runs in a 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner. The last thing a New York socialite would consider being is an illegal moonshiner. Is Molly moonshiner material? Molly is an impressionable senseless woman who hates work but loves thrills and money. She becomes a moonshiner, for better or worse.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A pretty obscure back country moonshine opus that's best left buried
and forgotten. Carol Lynley, who breezed her way into 70's film buff's
hearts by badly lip-syncing to Maureen McGovern's repellently sappy
Oscar-winning pop ballad "The Morning After" in the deathless disaster
classic "The Poseidon Adventure," strikes out big time as a snotty,
uptight New York City corporate babe who inherits a backwoods moonshine
operation from her recently deceased half uncle. Carol grudgingly takes
over the illicit business, locking horns with sloppy, cocksure good old
boy rotgut driver Gary Lockwood (a long way down from the glorious
"2001: A Space Odyssey" and coming on something awful with a rather
uncomfortably credible portrayal of a totally disgusting dirt-bag) over
how the business out to be run. Further complications ensue when both
the mob and the police decide it's time to either take over the bug
juice business or shut it down entirely.
While the basic premise could have made for some delectably dopey down-home dumb fun, director James Broderick unfortunately blows it abysmally by allowing the pace to crawl at a deadly slow rate, failing to deliver any bang-up exciting action (the few car chases featured herein are too flatly staged to have any slam-bang stirring impact), placing way too much emphasis on the dreary, uneventful narrative which largely focuses on the very tiresome and redundant bickering between Lynley and Lockwood (what their romance fails to set off in sparks it more than makes up for in sheer underwhelming boredom), and, worst of all, displaying an overall highly off-putting lackadaisical attitude towards the film in general. Additional damage is wrought by the shameful wasting of an extremely solid B-movie cast: late, great crotchety fuddy dud character actor Ryal Dano as Lockwood's flaky, hooch-saturated partner, Mary Woronov in a "blink and you'll miss her" nothing bit part as Lynley's stuffy, bespectacled boss, John Goff as a power hungry local yokel mob capo, blundering fat guy favorite Cliff Emmich (Rip Torn's loyal, long-suffering chauffeur in the extraordinary "Payday") as a clumsy FBI agent, and the seemingly inexhaustible and omnipresent trash flick treasure George "Buck" Flower in one of his standard cantankerous old hillbilly cuss parts. Furthermore, although the technical credits are sound -- Don Peake supplies a spare, peppy score, Ron Wiggins belts out the lively country and western theme song "Runnin' Moonshine" with agreeable redneck panache, future big deal mainstream movie cinematographer Tak Fujimoto gives the film a nice slick'n'polished look -- even said up to par behind-the-scenes contributions can't compensate for the film's crippling, entertainment-killing dearth of both sorely needed wit and vitality. In short, don't waste your money renting "Bad Georgia Road;" buy yourself some moonshine and get mighty plastered instead.
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