KAMAD Throwback Thursdays 1975: Return to Macon County

Throwback Thursday #TBT

Throwback Thursday on the KAMAD site will be a regular occurrence in the next year. As a motivational project, to make sure I am working on something, even in a week where I don’t see a new film in a theater, I am going to post on movies from 1975. Along with 1984, this is one of my favorite years for movies and it is full of bittersweet memories as well. 1975 was my Senior Year in High School and my Freshman Year in College. The greatest film of the last 60 years came out in 1975, as well as dozens of great and not so great cinematic endeavors. Most of the films in this weekly series will have been seen in a theater in 1975, but there are several that I only caught up with later. I hope you all enjoy. 

Return to Macon County

On my original project, I did a post on “Macon County Line“, an semi-exploitation film that I remembered pretty well and it was surprisingly good. This is a second film with a similar premise, but it is not a sequel and no one from the first film appears in this film. The main connection between the films is that it was written and directed by the same man who co wrote and directed the first film, Richard Compton. Compton was primarily a tv director who did shows like “The Equalizer”, “Miami Vice, and “Babylon 5”. He was also Married to actress Veronica Cartwright for over 25 years, she of “Alien” and “The Right Stuff” fame. 

The original ” Macon County Line”was a big success and it lead to a lot of drive-in material about the dangers of traveling while young in the South. It probably is a descendant of a movie like “Easy Rider”, but with a simpler story that is more nostalgic than anything else. Instead of two anti-heros giving the bird to the man, both “Macon County Line and Return to Macon County feature attractive young me, traveling in by car, who acquire an attractive girl for their road trip, and then complications ensue. 

“Return to Macon County” features the debut film appearance of actor Nick Nolte and a second 1975 film from Don Johnson [“A Boy and His Dog” will be featured later this year on KAMAD TBT]. Both of these guys would go on to substantial fame and fortune and they continue to work today. Robin Mattson, the waitress they take with them on the road is played by Robin Mattson, who did a lot of television in the following years and has been feature on numerous soap operas. 

Mattson’s character Junel, is a wild card girl, who impulsively joins them on the road and turns out to be a love interest for Nolte, but also the source of the plot complications. She comes equipped with a gun, and she feels compelled to recklessly brandish and  discharge it in a number of situations, that make everything worse for the characters. Let’s just say it becomes a chase film, with a few car crashes and clever escapes along the way.

The three of them are pursued by a local gang of toughs who lost a race, welched on a bet and beat up Johnson’s character. There is a local sheriff, from Macon County of course, who also gets bested by the hod rod driving fugitives, and disobeys orders to give up the chase and he pursues them across state lines. The movie meanders from incident to incident, with some romantic clutches along the way, including a rendezvous that Johnson has with a woman at a motel. There is a brief moment of nudity in that scene, and it only gets a PG rating in 1975. 

It would be expected that the resolution of the story would be tragic ala “Easy Rider” and “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry”. In fact there is a confrontation and a death, and lives ruined at the end, but it goes in a direction that is unexpected and lets us have a happy ending to some degree. It is not nearly as good as “Macon County Line” was, but it is an innocuous way to spend ninety minutes. In 1975, getting out of the house, going to a drive in with a romantic partner, and watching an undemanding movie, was everyone’s idea of a good night out. 

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The movie is on You Tube, I don’t know if it is pirated or not, but below is a link if you want to tale a look.