I remember watching this movie when i was in grade school and getting reprimanded by parents for viewing an"adult" film. I have seen it through various stages of my life and still find it intriguing. Both Mike and Maryann are not endearing characters and have many physical and psychological problems. When I say they deserve one another;I don't mean it in a harsh way, but rather a statement of practicality. We are not shed too much light on their past, but know it is affecting their present. Only with the help and love of each other can they survive their all too bleak future. The filming in black and white certainly adds to the dreariness of their situations. They are not "people" persons, but seem to have respect and commiseration for one another. Though Mike (RalphMeeker) seems to be controlling and possessive, it is something Maryann unconsciously needs. He builds her stamina and literally sharpens her survival skills. Maryann had problems before the rape as seen in flashbacks of her school and home life. Mike seems to be more mysterious, living a desolate and pitiful existence..only confiding to her that she is his last chance. It is only through their incredible acting that you forgive their shortcomings.