MACON COUNTY LINE—–drive-in junk from 1974, cleverly marketed as an exploitation flick, mysteriously took off like a rocket, making $30,000,000, astounding for such a cheese enterprise and a source of delirious amazement to its makers. When the 273rd episode of The Beverly Hillbillies ended the Clampett Era, ‘Jethro’, that is to say, Max Baer, Jr. was by then so typecast that for three years he could not get hired for answering his own door. Desperation rang, so Baer produced & co-wrote this 89-minute grinder for $110,000. Partnering scriptwriter Richard Compton directed. Set in the rural South (several states have a Macon County) in 1954, it has two rowdy brothers (Alan & Jesse Vint) and their hitchhiker (Cheryl Waters) running afoul of a brusque and bigoted sheriff (Baer).
When scuzzy drifters rape-murder the sheriff’s wife, he mistakenly thinks the three young people are guilty. Sold with the idea that it was factual (it was fiction), it looks as cheap as the budget, the script is nasty, needless garbage. The actors give it whatever quality it possesses. With Geoffrey Lewis, Joan Blackman (wasted), Leif Garrett, James Gannon, Emile Meyer and Doodles Weaver. The 70s were prime time for cheapjack sex & violence products that were advertised as based on fact, but were just spun-up fakes. Most of them were set in a stereotypical inhospitable South. Clean off the windshield for The Legend Of Boggy Creek, Jackson County Jail and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Some had flair. They all made money. This one held the record for amount expended vs. returns until 1999 and The Blair Witch Project (set in Maryland).