my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Girl on a Chain Gang
Director:   Jerry Gross
Year:   1965
Genre:   Exploitation
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   02.01.06

Other Movies Seen By This Director (0)

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
02.01.06Weird Wednesday weird wednesday!

I have heard so much about Teenage Mother and have had so many people ask me if i've seen it that I think this notes should really be about it instead of Girl on a Chain Gang. I will see Teenage Mother soon though so i guess it can wait.

This movie is a nightmare of deep-south institutional corruption and racism shown in stark black and white. Actually I'm not sure why these hick cops terrorize these three random people in town to help people vote. Only one of them's black and he seems to get off the easiest. The other guy gets bitten to death by snakes and the girl is raped and molested for a night before becoming the titular girl on a chain gang for about five minutes before escaping and falling into the safe hands of a random state trooper who knows all about how naughty the townies are.

The main sheriff guy, as Lars described, is like all the bad parts of Steve McQueen and a few other actors combined. He's really creepy in this because he's constantly chewing a huge cigar and he has a padlock hooked on an ammo loop on his gunbelt. I have no clue why he has a padlock hanging there but once I happened to notice it during a scene I could not stop thinking about why it was there whenever the dude was in a long or medium shot. There's also an assistant deputy or whatever that looks like a cross between Rory Cochran and Leonardo DiCaprio in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Hearing all of them try to deliver lines is pretty funny... especially the black guy doing his best Sydney Potier impression, but they are all beat by the old codger who plays the judge.

See, for like the first hour and fifteen minutes the movie is pretty slow and talky. Then they have a courtroom scene that is classic... every frame of it. The sweaty drunk witness, the wiley lawyer, the doddering doctor, and this hee-haw judge with what may be the worst character "choice" ever recorded on film. The scene includes the doctor going into a lecture on sperm and putting up slides showing white stains that he says are from white guys and these black magic marker squiggles which he says came from the black guy.

All said and done, the girl is not actually on a chain gang until about the very end. That's pretty disappointing. If the movie started at this courtroom scene and spent all of it's time post-sentencing on said chain gang, I have a feeling that it would be pretty cool. As it is though, it's really only saved by it's last 20 minutes. The first 70 or so are pretty low-key with only occasional bursts of particularly bad acting or poor dialogue.

Oh, one last thing. The shot composition was also always off. Lots of shots where chins are cut off or we're just a bit too close or too wide. I think it had a subconsciouss effect on the audience...
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