The Legend of Hillbilly John (1973)

Genres - Drama, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Adventure, Road Movie  |   Run Time - 86 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Craig Butler

A strange, at times silly yet ultimately engaging little film, The Legend of Hillbilly John is very much a product of its times, but still has a fair amount of appeal. Hillbilly is clearly a B-movie, and that is at the core of one of its problems. Simply put, Hillbilly is cheaply made, and that cheapness mitigates some of its effectiveness. Now, necessity can indeed be the mother of invention, and one gets the impression that director John Newland was indeed inspired by his meager budget to find inventive ways of filming his material; yet one just as certainly gets the impression that sometimes he simply couldn't overcome the limitations. In several scenes, one feels the director wishes he had had a few extra takes or some more alternate shots to choose from. There are also some problems with the screenplay, which is rather too episodic and also a bit too dated; the "good vs. evil" forces especially feel mired in the early 1970s. That said, much of Hillbilly is delightful, and the whole enterprise has a spirit to it that is difficult to resist. Hedge Capers is artless, which is both a plus and a minus, but generally his naturalness works in favor of the character. The rest of the cast, however, is solid all the way through, and when Newland is in top form, he delivers a nifty little picture.