Jackson County Jail1976

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Yvette Mimieux is an East Coast professional who tires of life in Hollywood and decides to drive cross-country back to New York, until a carjacking on a rural highway plunges her into the worst night of her life. She's pawed by a sleazy bar owner, jailed next to cold killer Tommy Lee Jones, and raped by a lascivious slob of a jailer. When the sloppy good-ol'-boy cop reaches out to her in belated shame, his touch sends her into a panicked attack and she beats the life out of him until Jones drags her from the jail in an impromptu escape. On the surface this mix of Southern-fried cars-and-guns adventure and woman-in-peril thriller might look like pure exploitation. Director Michael Miller certainly shows a flair for wild car chases and pitched gunplay, but he also shows an unexpected sensitive hand in the seamier elements of the film. Mimieux is no shrinking victim; she carves out a strong, assured character slowly stripped of her dignity, and her shock and emotional hysteria during and following the attack is piercing. Tommy Lee Jones, in his first leading role, shows his star potential in a relaxed and confident performance as a terse career crook on the run from a murder rap. Almost philosophical about his way of life ("I was born dead," he tosses off before making a run for it), he is at once clear-eyed, candid, and the most tender character in the film. --Sean Axmaker

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