"This movie stars the young Tommy Lee Jones in the kind of role that is his hallmark. In this controversial and action-packed story, Tommy Lee Jones plays an outlaw on the run with more integrity and certainly more 'cool' ... more »than the society that condemned him. His is so unnervingly convincing and commanding that it doesn't even seem to be a performance." -- Roger Corman~~~Used, abused, and accused of a crime she didn't commit, a woman (Yvette Mimieux) breaks out of jail and goes on the run with a fellow prisoner (Tommy Lee Jones).~~~« less
"Caught In The Clenched Fist Of Jackson County Justice!"
B.C. Scribe | Brooklyn Center, MN USA | 11/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well, at least that's what the voiceover in the theatrically shown film trailer proclaims. Released in 1976 'Jackson County Jail' has developed a legitimate cult following in the years since. While it may appear to the average movie viewer to be much-ado-about-nothing hardcore fans of the genre love this Roger Corman produced pic. Independent film maker Corman himself has a huge nearly unfathomable cult following; taking this factor into account it isn't a wonder that this minor gem remains well-known today. If it had anyone else's name attached to it I imagine 'Jackson County Jail' would have fallen by the wayside along with many others of its type. But besides the prestige that Corman's name lends there is more here than meets than the eye. The excellent acting in the key roles, interesting casting of supporting players and sharp direction that keeps the suspense and tension building. But most especially of interest is the quirky existentialist like plot contained within the story that is embodied by its two main characters.
After getting unnecessarily verbally abused Dinah Hunter (Yvette Mimieux) quits her job as a commercial producer and leaves Los Angeles for a new job in New York, intending to drive herself there. Stopping to eat at a diner she happens across a young couple who she sympathizes with and offers a ride to them. Later that evening the young couple steal Dinah's car and purse, forcing her out and abandoning her. Finding a road house bar she explains what happened and asks to use the phone. The owner leads her to a back room where he tries to rape her. She breaks free of him, tumbles back out into the bar and directly into the arms of a law officer. The owner claims that she was trying to beat him; lacking any identification she is taken into custody and brought to the county jail for questioning. They decide to hold her overnight so that her story and identification can be corroborated. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials have captured fugitive criminal Coley Blacke (Tommy Lee Jones) who is also held overnight before being transported to a larger facility. The sole law officer left on duty rapes Dinah in her jail cell; afterwards Dinah strikes him with a stool killing him. Coley urges Dinah to escape with him and she does so out of fear. The two of them hear on a radio broadcast that they are wanted for killing a police officer and realize they are now marked for death. Coley fails to convince her to contact the police and explain that he killed the officer and took her as a hostage - a fact he is sure they will be more than willing to believe and thus let her off the hook. On the lam they first hideout with Coley's fellow criminals where they are quickly tracked down and, then escaping there, take refuge in an empty farmhouse. Soon they are once again tracked down and attempt to elude capture by making their way into a nearby town. Dinah is severely injured by gunshots and caught; Coley is shot to death on mainstreet during a celebratory bicentennial parade.
This is the type of movie that was popular drive-in fodder during the resurgence it briefly saw in the early to mid-seventies. Beginning with the excellent 'Macon County Line' there were several similarly themed movies to make this circuit during this time frame. 'Jackson County Jail' even went so far as to use a very similar title and many of the same plot devices. What helps this particular film rise above the rest of the crowd is the presence of Mimieux and Jones who are both excellent in their roles and the absence of exploitation - which is equally refreshing and amazing given the setting and storyline. Screenplay author Donald Stewart also includes oblique existential references. From the beginning of the film Dinah is verbally abused by an executive; a waitress tries to shortchange her ("I gave you a ten", "No, you gave me a five."); she feels sympathy for a pair of hitch-hikers and gets her car & purse stolen by them; the bar owner tries to rape her; the police don't believe her and ultimately she is raped by one of them. The juxtapositioning of accepted doctrines of law enforcement and basic human kindness are counterbalanced with the unpredictable consequences of what happens when people purposely abuse and ignore them. Coley later tells her that "true human freedom is an impossibility in our corrupt world" and goes on to emphatically deny that there is no such thing as an honest person. Unbelievably she argues against his opinions in spite of the current situation she finds herself in! There are other camouflaged existential inferences throughout the film that make it interesting viewing. Near the end of the movie when Coley must leave the injured Dinah and attempt an escape he makes the final of his many philosophical statements telling Dinah "I was born dead" when she shouts to him he will get himself killed. The final shot on mainstreet may be perceived as pretentious but is actually quite fitting and well thought out.
There are many familiar faces to be seen in this film beginning with the two leads of course. Mimieux had already forged a name for herself in such cult classics as 1960's 'The Time Machine' where she played the beguiling Weena and then later that same year appearing as Melanie in 'Where The Boys Are'. She is also recognizable to television viewers from the many TV movies she made throughout the seventies and eighties. Other noteworthy films include the Disney sci-fi favorite 'The Black Hole' where she played a scientist and in the early sixties film 'Diamond Head' playing the sister of Charlton Heston. This was Jones' first significant movie role having appeared in a gratuitous role in 'Love Story' and starring on the television soap opera 'One Live To Live' from 1971 - 1975. His starring roles of Sam Gerard in 'The Fugitive' and as Clay Shaw in 'JFK' are nearly legendary now.
Also to be seen here: Howard Hesseman (Dinah's husband) who everybody knows as Dr. Johnny Fever from the TV series 'WKRP In Cincinnati'; Severn Darden (the sheriff) whose list of credits is endless; Betty Thomas (a waitress) who starred for years on 'Hill Street Blues'; Robert Carradine (hitch-hiker) who most people will know from the 'Revenge Of The Nerds' movie series; Mary Woronov (Pearl) who has appeared in countless Corman cheapies and several other indie films and Hal Needham (Fallsburgh police chief) renowned stuntman and film director.
The DVD has received some knocks in other reviews here for its picture quality. Actually I didn't think it was bad at all; the colors do look soft but I perceive that as an inherent part of the original that can't be improved upon. It is presented in full screen which I consider a distraction but again it was probably filmed this way. The special features include biographies, film trailers and a decent but too short interview with Corman by film critic Leonard Maltin. All in all I consider this DVD the best $5.00 I spent last week."
Yvette Is A Dish !!
Rondell Gunn | Lawrenceburg, Tennessee United States | 07/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"O.K., so this movie is a typical Roger Corman production with the usual Roger Corman production values. That makes it, of course, a really worthwhile film. Corman may have made some weirdos, but all of his movies are fun. Tommy Lee Jones was perfectly cast in Jackson County Jail. I think perhaps only Steve Railsback could have matched the performance. Yvette? This is as cruise-speed sexy as she has ever been. And, her performance is Grade A. This movie has a large cult following for various reasons. And, even though it's not the best of it's genre, it is a film worth the price. Good ole' Roger Corman. Good ole' Yvette!! Good ole' Tommy Lee!! They click."
Jackson County jail...no place for a lady!
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 01/13/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well I'll tell you what, when producer Roger Corman comes across something successful in one of his cinematic projects, he certainly milks the hell out of it...take this film, titled Jackson County Jail (1976) aka The Innocent Victim. A fairly popular movie, one that did well both in terms of box office receipts and critical acclaim, has since been remade at least two times, once in 1978 as a made for TV movie titled Outside Chance, featuring many of the actors present from the original film (but not Tommy Lee Jones), and then again in 1997 with the film titled Macon County Jail, which featured Ally Sheedy and David Carradine. I haven't seen the subsequent remakes, but I did get a chance to see the original last night, and I thought it quite good. Written by Donald Stewart, who would later provide screenplays for the films The Hunt for Red October (1990), Patriot Games (1992), and Clear and Present Danger (1994), and directed by Michael Miller (Silent Rage, Class Reunion), the film features Yvette Mimieux, better known to me as the character Weena, from the classic science fiction feature The Time Machine (1960), and Tommy Lee Jones (Coal Miner's Daughter, The Fugitive), in a very early role in his career. Also appearing is Betty Thomas ("Hill Street Blues"), Howard Hesseman ("WKRP in Cincinnati"), Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds), Corman favorite Mary Woronov (Death Race 2000), and stuntman/actor/writer/director Hal Needham, who's probably best know for his high octane features including Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), and The Cannonball Run (1981), to name a few.
L.A. ad executive Dinah Hunter (Mimieux) is having a bad day, and things are about to get a whole lot worse...after a conflict with a disagreeable client, she returns to the home she shares with her boyfriend, David (Hesseman) only to find him frolicking by the pool with a topless nymphet. Deciding things aren't working out for her on the west coast, she calls a friend back east to see if she could get her old job back (apparently she worked in an ad agency in NY prior to moving west). After securing her old position, Dinah decides to drive cross-country in her yellow AMC Pacer, eventually meeting up with a couple hitchhiking to Alaska, who she foolishly gives a ride to...they, in turn, steal her car and money, leaving her stranded with nothing but the clothes on her back. Circumstances lead to her being arrested and put into a cell next to a shaggy drifter named Coley Blake (Jones), who's awaiting extradition to Texas on murder charges. While in jail, she suffers an attack from a particularly frisky deputy, whom she ends up killing after he has his way with her. Coley and Dinah escape with the rural, trigger-happy authorities in hot pursuit, as the pair are viewed as stone cold cop killers. Perhaps next time Dinah will consider flying instead of driving...
I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would, as the material seemed fairly solid, bolstered by a pair of excellent performances by Mimieux and Jones. I did feel the misogynistic element was laid on a bit thick, as we see one male character after another mistreating Dinah in various ways, from the fat, disgusting, advertising client who suggests she's in need a good schtupping, to her cheating boyfriend, along with the male hitchhiker and the greasy, opportunistic bartender, and then the deputy who initially arrests her without even listening to her side of the story (she's desperately trying to relate her circumstances, taking the Lord's name in vain, to which the deputy yells "You shut that tramp yap of yours!"), to finally another deputy, with a really bad case of thinning hair, who jumps her in her cell in a brief, yet extremely violent attack (he finished his `business' rather quickly, to which I dubbed him Quick Draw McGraw). Had this been a straight up expoiltation piece, I would have expected the seemingly excessive displays of machismo, but it felt like the filmmakers were trying to develop the dramatic aspects over the sensationalistic ones...then again, we are talking about a Roger Corman produced movie. About the only two characters that didn't treat her poorly were the sheriff, played by Needham, and Coley. As I mentioned, the real strengths in this film come from the two lead actors, primarily due to the sense of realism they brought to their characters. Mimieux's character isn't portrayed as an idiot victim turned violent, vengeance seeking feminista type as she would have been in your standard exploitation film, but an authentic individual who suffers an incredible ordeal, and is now thrown into a situation for which she has no frame of reference to deal with, versus Tommy Lee Jones' character, a thief who knows the score, the score being that if they're caught, few would be inclined to believe the version of events as they actually happened. Dinah did seem a bit overly naïve at times (when she found her boyfriend with another woman, she asked him to leave, but it was his house...yeah, he's the one who should leave), finding herself in awkward situations as a result...picking up those hitchhikers certainly seemed like a bad idea, even before they turned on her, along with the sequence just after she got ripped off and went to the bar to call for help. She asked for a dime to use the pay phone, but the bartender offered to let her use the phone in his seedy, backroom apartment...having seen the bartender, I would have probably opted to use the pay phone instead. Her naivety did come into play in terms of Jones' character, realizing after their escape how much in over her head she was, and his subsequent treatment of her. Jones was perhaps the strongest character in the film, displaying a raw intensity, an aspect often seen in his later roles, in a slightly more refined and focused fashion. And for you Mary Woronov fans, her part is relatively minor, but worth checking out if only for her `butchness'. All in all this is a tight, fast paced film, with a couple of great performances, worth, at the very least, a rental.
I would have liked to have given this release four stars, but due to poor presentation, I feel I have to go with three. Walt Disney Video, which recently acquired the rights to release a large number of Corman's films to DVD, provides a so-so fullscreen (1.33:1) transfer here, along with a substandard audio track, which claims to be in Dolby Digital Surround, which I found hard to believe as the audio is often muddled and hard to discern at times. There are a few extras, including a dated interview piece with Leonard Maltin and Roger Corman (4:15), brief biographies of Corman and the main cast, and a theatrical trailer for the film.
Good film, terrible DVD
RK, Germany | 08/22/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I guess you don't have to rave about the superior direction and acting anymore, as this is one of the 70's films which deserves its cult reputation. I only wish the production of this DVD had been adequate - the image is good, but the sound is TERRIBLE. Especially the opening scene in the monitoring room and the scene with Yvette Mimieux meeting the teenage hitchhikers are hardly audible. My dupe of the old Warner rental tape sounds better. Shame on you, guys!"
Gripping Action Flick!!
BMG | Liverpool, NY | 10/03/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Raw, but effective and rather entertaining. This was a movie that was sort of a spring board for Tommy Lee Jones. Minieux gives a gutsy performance as the victim. I've been waiting for this to come out on VHS for a long time. Now that it on DVD, maybe we can see it again on pay TV."