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The Only Way Home (1972)

PG | | Drama | September 1972 (USA)
Two bikers stop on the road to help a family with car troubles. An argument ensues leaving the father dead, and the others are held hostage in a barn. As police investigate, the fate of the hostages is uncertain.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Billy Joe
Walter Jones ...
Orval's Boss
Jack Isaacs ...
Jean Abney ...
Orval's Mother
Maurice Eaves ...
Stanley Zenor ...
Church Custodian
Tom Kroutil ...
Jane Hall ...
Lynn Hickey ...
Car Salesman
Beverly Osborne ...
Edgar Springer ...
Matt Smith ...
Little Boy


Two bikers stop on the road to help a family with car troubles. An argument ensues leaving the father dead, and the others are held hostage in a barn. As police investigate, the fate of the hostages is uncertain.

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hostage | motorcycle | See All (2) »


Suppose you realized you'd never experienced what it is to be alive, until one day. One day late.








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September 1972 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Featured in Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 4 (1997) See more »


Mama Macoozie
Written by Dan Foliart and Tom Shapiro
Vocal by Linda Wright
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User Reviews

Very disappointing regional film from actor G.D. Spradlin
28 March 2011 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

THE ONLY WAY HOME never played in my hometown of Cleveland, so it's been on my Want List of movies to see for nearly 40 years. I finally caught up with it via the collectors' circuit and was I disappointed! Spradlin is a wonderful character actor, memorably as a slimy senator in THE GODFATHER PART II. He took a flier as an indie director of a couple of movies, this one and Allen Baron's OUTSIDE IN, but both were flops and have fallen into understandable obscurity.

Problem here starts with his collaborator, writer Jeed O'Tilbury (who also worked on OUTSIDE IN). The script is awful, makes less sense than a typical XXX porn film of the period, and is merely an excuse to pile on lame exploitation film clichés, but executed without the thrill of the sex or violence audiences were lapping up at the time. Film's PG rating (probably was an M back then) is the tipoff.

Bo Hopkins, giving it his all in an inconsistent, underwritten role, stars as a young country boy who's fired from his gas station job at the beginning of the film, for no reason. He seeks to get a job at the local mill with the help of a relative, but gets the cold shoulder there too. So it isn't inconceivable when he falls in with bad company, in the form of ex-con Steve Sandor, a certifiable nut whose lack of morals and conscience is near-complete.

Hardly Leopold and Loeb, this duo becomes the typical thrill killers beloved of exploitation filmmakers. On a threadbare budget, however, their escapades here are merely boring and ultimately 100% bogus.

Poor Philip (played by auteur Spradlin) and his blonde wife Marcia (appealing Beth Brickell, who probably got a new agent after this picture) are driving to a weekend outing when they get a flat tire. He hikes to the nearest phone to call AAA (yes, this ancient plot ploy of hundreds of horror and porn films was still viable, now ruined by the ubiquity of cell phones), leaving wifey alone in the coupe.

Sandor and Hopkins arrive on Steve's motorcycle and make like Good Samaritans, changing the tire for Beth while she waits for hubby to return, after informing her there is no local AAA in these sticks. Sandor had previously egged Hopkins on to rob a liquor store, to no avail when he chickened out.

When Spradlin shows up, Sandor freaks out at the slightest condescending remark from G.D., clobbering him fatally with a tire iron. Film goes off the rails at this early point, never to recover in credibility or interest.

The two goofs kidnap Beth and take her to Bo's uncle's house to hideout while the old man's away. The series of contrived incidents among the threesome is hokey and boring, but makes for exploitation motifs on paper (with the guts removed). Beth is frigid (per G.D. in their opening conversation scene driving), and Sandor tries to rape her, but can't because he's impotent. Later she sobs on Bo's shoulder, leading to sex with him where she reports she had an amazing orgasm that's "cured" her.

The pot is hardly kept boiling with contrivances like a missing car's ignition key, Sandor's pointless trip to town, and even an S.O.L.I. sequence for sudden lovers Bo & Beth, planning a long-range future together.

Final reel plot twists are asinine, leading to a completely arbitrary freeze-frame ending which, like porn films often do, makes no psychological sense but is merely insulting to the audience -assumed to merely want a shock.

I found Beth attractive and competent, serving her well in a minor TV career. Bo displays many of his James Dean mannerisms but is empathetic to a point -at least he's given a showcase and not merely a stereotype as he became in subsequent redneck sheriff assignments as he got older. Tech credits are meager.

Film's distributor Cineworld has the distinction of never having a hit, and goes down in film history mainly for the quirkiness of its releases, notably another obscurity I just caught up with, the oddball amputee exploitation film (like THE ONLY WAY HOME, completely wimped out): PRELUDE TO HAPPINESS.

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