Saturday, July 4, 2015

THE GREAT TEXAS DYNAMITE CHASE( aka Dynamite Women) 1976

Claudia Jennings Movie Night # 5 !

What better way to celebrate the 4th of July then blowing up a bunch of stuff with Claudia !!


     Produced by Roger Corman's New World Pictures (and one of Claudia's more popular pictures) this 1976 action exploitation favorite gained some notoriety in the early 90's as being looked at as a precursor to Ridley Scott's THELMA AND LOUISE. Although its debatable whether Scott had seen or was even aware of it's existence the two movies do share some similar themes primarily in a plot line based upon two strong central female characters who embark on a road trip which turns ugly & violent (however Claudia and her buddy are a more deliberately crime centered duo from the get go - and show bit more scenery then their 90's counterparts). Although lately its been fun to see how people read things such as social comment or gender issues into exploitation movies that for the most part were likely pretty far from the said films creators end purposes, THE GREAT TEXAS DYNAMITE CHASE while at its core being basic 70's drive-in fare does have some interesting stuff lurking in its plot (whether by design or not by writer Mark Rosin & director Michael Pressman) and fits kind of left handed in with the 70's "road" movie genre. Plus anytime you get Claudia Jennings into a pair of daisy dukes worked into your plot that's a good thing.

    Claudia stars as Candy Moran who upon escaping from prison (where she handily worked on a road crew doing blasting) and liberating some dynamite robs a local bank by brandishing the said dynamite and subsequently hands the money over to her Pa (who doesn't seem to mind much as far as her method of obtaining it) in order the pay off the mortgage on the family farm. While at the bank she catches the eye of teller Ellie Jo Turner (Jocelyn Jones from Dirty Harry's THE ENFORCER) who had just been fired from her bank position for constantly being late as a result of languishing in bed with her boyfriend(s). Later a hitchhiking Ellie Jo is picked up by Candy and the two women decide to become partners in the dynamite bank robbing way of life. Eventually they hook up with "Slim" (Johnny Crawford from the THE RIFLEMAN) who serves as a love interest for Ellie Jo and poses has a hostage for the gang's escalating robberies.
      Like a lot on 70's exploitation movies its a bit of a schizophrenic proposition and much like New Worlds Nurse series of movies, the film starts off with kind of a goofy comedy vibe to it before turning somewhat serious. At  one point it goes into an extended (way too extended...) under cranked sequence in fast motion that has the trio gleefully counting and playing with their stolen loot, while a short while later there's a couple of bloody shotgun killings. The police are shown to be pretty much complete buffons in the early sequences, but the above mentioned shotgun sequence turns film in almost a 180 degree direction and points it toward its somewhat downbeat ending.

     The plot channels a bit BONNIE AND CLYDE and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID with its pair of rebels vs. the establishment plot line, but doesn't lose sight of the main reasons people would be drawn to this - shit blowing up and Claudia in (and out of) her daisy dukes. We don't get a lot of character establishment (but we really don't need it - or want it) and the the plot sticks pretty close to the Roger Corman mantra of boobs and/or action every 15 minutes or so. With all that being said however, the plot does place its two female leads strongly front and center and in control of their chosen way of life. Though it does offer up the requisite nudity & sex with both Candy and Ellie Jo (sometimes even together), they rebuff any man who forces himself upon them and engage in relationships when they want to and on their terms.
     Claudia & Jocelyn have a great chemistry together (in some scenes they look almost like sisters) and film does have some quite funny moments in the first half with Claudia dressing up in a prissy hair bun with large glasses to call in a fake bomb threat in order for Jocelyn to stage a robbery while posing as a pushy bank customer. A wonderfully natural & charismatic actress, Claudia's charms are on full display here and its easy to see why see was one of the few true drive-in stars during the 70's. In 1979 she missed out to replace Kate Jackson on CHARLIE'S ANGELS (with the part going to Shelly Hack) and later that same year she would tragically die in head on automobile collision on Topanga Canyon Blvd. after falling asleep at the wheel of her car.  
     Under its THE GREAT TEXAS DYNAMITE title this is available from Shout Factory on DVD (in one of their typical schizophrenic packages) that includes the tolerable & sorta fun Corman produced TV pilot GEORGIA PEACHES with Tanya Tucker and Terri Nunn, along with the insufferable and utter crap-fest SMOKEY BITES THE DUST - with Claudia at least getting a disc to herself.
 Claudia Rockin' the Shotgun !!


  1. I've always liked this type of movie. Kind of the violent buddy film.
    Interesting too what you said about how people read into exploitation films things that weren't there. The whole pseudo-intellectual types love to do that. Ever seen Great American Nightmare? It find it hard to watch with all the over analyzing everything.

    1. Hi Rob
      I've always loved 70's road movies. I've never seen The Great American Nightmare. Always been curious, but I've heard several people echo what you said.

  2. I got this on an earlier DVD release and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have since purchased that triple feature set as well. Claudia was gorgeous and had so much presence. I wonder what she'd be up to now if she's lived? Still making genre movies left and right, or quietly appearing at autograph shows, perhaps?

    1. Hi Craig This is really a great little movie and Claudia is wonderful in it. Your right, she had a great presence. I like to think that she would have gotten married and quietly faded into retirement (and hopefully appearing at shows)