Jackson County Jail This is a powerful drama about a young woman who stumbles into a nightmare land of hijacking and humiliation while driving cross-country from California to New York.
Jackson County Jail is raw, tough and compelling mid-seventies exploitation coming from the nearly inexhaustible vaults of producer Roger Corman. The film definitely isn’t as violent or sleazy as many contemporary and similarly-themed movies, like for example “I Spit on your Grave”, because the emphasis here merely lies on the thoroughly unpleasant atmosphere of hopelessness. So, instead of a nasty and gratuitous rape ‘n revenge flick, this is more of a powerful drama centered on the suffering (physically as well as mentally) of the poor protagonist and the cruel injustice of this world. Underrated actress Yvette Mimieux is truly terrific as the strong leading lady Dinah Hunter. She’s a feisty publicity woman in Los Angeles, avidly defending women’s position in marketing, but her clients don’t share her visions. When she also catches her husband with a much younger and exotic wench, Dinah impulsively decides to meet up with her sister in New York. She also decides to travel by car for this cross-country trip instead of by plane; a choice that she will deeply regret quite quickly and for the rest of her life. In a very short while, Dinah’s car and everything in it gets stolen by youthful thugs, she’s nearly assaulted by a filthy restaurant owner and then she’s the one put in jail because she doesn’t have any papers! But in jail the nightmare only gets worse, as Dinah is barbarically raped by the crazy deputy Hobie. She manages to kill him and escapes together with convict Coley Blake, who witnessed the whole thing, but from this moment onwards they are considered fugitive cop-killers by all police department of the neighboring counties. “Jackson County Jail” fully relies on a solid script by Donald Stewart (frequent adapter of Tom Clancy novels), tight direction by Michael Miller and stellar performances from both Yvette Mimieux and Tommy Lee Jones (still in the earliest phases of his awesome career). There are a couple of moments of adrenalin- rushing action, like the chase with the sheriff and the climax, but the strength of the film lies within the grim portrayal of America’s underbelly-society. Highly recommended for fans of genuine 70’s cult cinema.