Monday, April 22, 2024

Film Masters Looks To June 25 For The DVD And Blu-ray Release Of Backwoods Double-Feature Teaming Common Law Wife With Jennie, Wife/Child

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey, @dvdblurayreport
Film Masters takes us down a country road on June 25 for some sinful delights with the release of Backwoods Double-Feature (on both DVD and Blu-ray), top-lining Common Law Wife, which is teamed with Jennie, Wife/Child.

Not all movies released theatrically are destined for Oscar consideration.   Others can gain their “award-winning” status by virtue of being entertaining for, perhaps, all the wrong reasons.   Remember Reefer Madness?   Cocaine Fiends ring any bells? 

That’s what “director” Larry Buchanan accomplished with Common Law Wife.   The story goes that Buchanan, who had been on the fringes of Hollywood with acting gigs and some studio work, moved back to Texas and used those talents to make religious and “industrial” films … and the “educational” film, Common Law Wife.  

That was finished in 1961, but then dropped out of sight.   It’s a little murky, but at some point additional footage was shot (with different actors in the same role) and the narrative was shifted to exploitive in nature.   Contemporary reviews called the “new” Common Law Wife confusing and very bad — that’s the key, “very bad” — but entertaining.   

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey, @dvdblurayreport
The film resurfaced in May of 1963 with limited 35mm prints.   For an entire year it was “bicycled” from one area of the country to the next and was a box office success.   There was no stopping Buchanan after this … 28 additional films followed over the next 20 years, including the likes of Naughty Dallas, Attack of the Eye Creatures, Zontar: The Thing from Venus, Curse of the Swamp Creature and Mars Needs Women.  

 Bonus features with Common Law Wife (restored from the original 35mm print) include the Ballyhoo Motion Pictures documentary titled That’s Hicksploitation: The Origin of Southern Sinema and a vintage commentary with Buchanan, film historian Nathaniel Thompson and “I Saw What You Did” podcaster Millie De Chirico. 

There’s also a newly-prepared commentary featuring TCM programmer Ben Cheaves.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey, @dvdblurayreport
The other half of the Backwoods Double-Feature double feature is writer/director James Landis’ 1968 delight Jennie, Wife/Child, which also made the rounds as Albert Peckingpaw’s Revenge.   This in a new 4K scan from 35mm archival elements.

The film was originally shot in 1965 as Tender Grass, but was either never finished or never released.   Enter Robert Carl Cohen who finished the film, but his further involvement is in doubt.

Jack Lester (The Road Hustlers, The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant, Deadwood ’76) stars as Albert Peckingpaw, who marries the much younger, Jennie (Beverly Lunsford — The Crawling Hand, The Intruder), but it doesn’t work.   Albert plans to murder her and his cheating farmhand, but instead falls in love with Lulu Belle (played by Virginia Wood — Lady in Cement) and the film has a happy ending.

TCM programmer Ben Cheaves provides commentary on Jennie: Wife/Child.

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey, @dvdblurayreport

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey, @dvdblurayreport

DVD & Blu-ray Release Report, Ralph Tribbey, @dvdblurayreport

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