Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Jennie: Wife/Child (1968)

As I write this my e-mail server is down, my website is down, and – more to the point – my blog is down. The entire website of the company that hosts my blog and website is down. I have no idea how long this will last. I don’t know if the problem will be fixed today – or ever, for that matter. It would be an unfortunate way to discover that my web-hosting company is out of business.

However, this kind of thing has happened before, so I suppose I should not jump to any conclusions. But since I have no idea when – or if – I will be able to post this, I will keep it brief.

I had never even heard of Hicksploitation as a genre until I watched Common Law Wife (1961) a couple of months ago. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and found it to be a surprisingly well made drama that happened to focus on more “adult” ideas than the mainstream cinema of the day would have typically featured. Jennie: Wife/Child (1968) is definitely cut from that same cloth.

What was especially exciting about Jennie: Wife/Child was the surprisingly good soundtrack music. Cult favourites Davie Allan & The Arrows, who famously created soundtracks for biker movies such as Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels (1966), Devil’s Angels (1967) and The Born Losers (1967), are not only included on the soundtrack of Jennie: Wife/Child, but they can also be seen playing live on stage in the movie! They sound like a more countrified version of themselves, but it is still great to see (and hear) them. They play three songs: Mario’s Theme, Lulu’s World, and Peckingpaw’s Theme. 

All of the songs in the movie were written by Harley Hatcher, who composed music for a number of films. The songs he wrote for Jennie: Wife/Child have a tendency to comment on the action of the story – the same way that James Brown’s did in Black Caesar (1973) – but that’s another story. Most of the songs were sung by Don Epperson, who appeared as an actor in several movies including Big Jake (1971) with John Wayne. Epperson can also be seen performing a song in Jennie: Wife/Child

One of the musical highlights of this movie was a little ditty called My Birthday Suit, sung by Lydia Marcelle. I don’t know much about her, but it looks like she released a few singles back in the 1960s and early 1970s. 

As for the movie, the acting is good, the story is good, and it’s a much better made film than you would expect of something called Jennie: Wife/Child. The cinematographer was Vilmos Zsigmond, who shot such classics as Deliverance (1972), The Deer Hunter (1978) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). Needless to say the film looks great. 

Jennie: Wife/Child (1968) is surprisingly tasteful and entertaining for a movie that’s part of the so-called Hicksploitation genre. But then again, I really enjoyed both examples that I caught on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn. I guess it’s a kind of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that I might have to explore further…