Thursday, June 18, 2015

Nashville Girl

I can imagine Southern drive-in audiences lapping up this New World release. Roger Corman put it in theaters as both NASHVILLE GIRL and, in Northern theaters, where audiences were presumably less enchanted with country music, NEW GIRL IN TOWN. Years later, after COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER was a smash hit, NASHVILLE GIRL found more playdates under the title COUNTRY MUSIC DAUGHTER. Now that’s exploitation. Gus Trikonis, a former dancer and husband to Goldie Hawn, directed it in the same professional style as his other New World pictures, THE EVIL and MOONSHINE COUNTY EXPRESS.

Softcore star Monica Gayle, who had earned a small fanbase among the drive-in crowd after appearing in films like SWITCHBLADE SISTERS and THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO, takes the title role of jailbait Jamie, a product of a strict Baptist upbringing who runs away from her hillbilly home and hitches with a pair of truckers to Nashville to become a country-western star. After her brothers beat up her rapist and her dad takes a strap to her for listening to the radio in church, 16-year-old Jamie leaves the country for the big city, only to be pawed and groped by almost every man she meets.

She meets a friend while showering at the YWCA, loses her, meets another while serving a prison sentence for prostitution, is pawed by a lesbian guard, gets paroled, bounces around from one sleazebag record producer to another, loses her virginity to another sleazebag, and finally signs a personal contract with a country singer (Glenn Corbett of ROUTE 66) with a penchant for young girls.

Like many exploitation movies from the 1970s, rape and statutory rape are treated casually, and without the sleazier elements, NASHVILLE GIRL would probably fit well as a made-for-TV movie. Gayle, a better actress than the material she was usually given, handles Jamie’s arc quite well, graduating from naive country girl to country music superstar with aplomb. Corbett, busy hoping from one television guest shot to another, probably relished the opportunity to tackle an edgier role (and being surrounded by so many nude actresses was probably fun).

Singer Johnny Rodriguez and songwriters Rory Bourke, Gene Dobbins, and John Wills give Trikonis’ expose a stamp of approval, even though it’s a roaring indictment of the music industry. The songs are pretty good, and I wonder if a NASHVILLE GIRL soundtrack album ever existed. Marvel Comics writer Gary Friedrich, the co-creator of Ghost Rider, penned a softcore novelization of producer Peer J. Oppenheimer’s script that contains even more sex than the film does.

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