Jackson County Jail (1976)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Chase Movie, Escape Film, Prison Film  |   Release Date - Apr 1, 1976 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This nightmarish, surprisingly subversive thriller is one of the best and most memorable films to emerge from New World Pictures during their 1970's heyday. Donald Stewart's script is pulpy enough to retain a drive-in appeal but believable enough to have a visceral emotional impact and is populated with interesting, complex characters. More importantly, it offers a grim, powerful critique of the American Dream, an idea best expressed in monologue about the country that Tommy Lee Jones delivers during the midsection of the film. Jackson County Jail also features strong performances from Yvette Mimieux as the beleaguered heroine, whose reactions are subtle but believable to the horrors she experiences, and Tommy Lee Jones, who suffuses the role of a seen-it-all con with an effortless charisma. Finally, the film's appeal is sealed by the direction of Michael Miller, who maintains a high level of quality in the performances throughout the film and carefully blends drama with action while sustaining an ever-building mood of tension. He also delivers a finale that is as emotionally shattering as it is exciting. In short, Jackson County Jail is one of the lesser-known classics of the drive-in era and well worth the time for cult movie fans.