Goin' South (1978) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This movie had a lot going for it. It featured a terrific comic ensemble cast, a colorful performance from Jack Nicholson, and a funny premise.

Nicholson played a second-rate desperado who was brought to the scaffold in a town with a special "ordinance" that was created after the Civil War caused a shortage of males. Any condemned man can be saved if a local woman will claim him as a husband. After a few misfires, Nicholson is claimed by Mary Steenburgen, a refined virgin who needs a man - not in bed, but to work her gold mine. The sheriff tells him that he is her property, and if he chooses to bolt, he'll be hunted down and brought back to the scaffold.


None, but Mary Steenburgen bathed in a river wearing a white shift, and her nipples were clearly visible.

The sexual tension between Steenburgen and Nicholson is golden - will they ever get it on, or will he remain a hired hand? The first half hour of the movie is both funny and sexy.

Until Nicholson and Steenburgen consummated their relationship.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic format, 1.85:1

Unfortunately, that happened about halfway through the film, and the script really didn't know where to go from there. They do fall in love. They do strike gold. Nicholson's outlaw gang shows up, and they manage to throw up a lot in Steenburgen's museum-like home, and Nicholson starts plotting with his old gang to rob a bank that includes mostly his own money. Where do his loyalties really lie?

That second half wasn't exactly a comic gold mine, and the script really doesn't make very good use of all the talented people on hand. John Belushi and Danny DeVito have nothing to do, and what little they have is probably the worst performances they've ever given.

Too bad. Jack Nicholson brought plenty of energy to the project as performer and actor, and he did well with what he had, but he just didn't have a complete package to work with.  He took three shots at directing. (this film, Drive, He Said, The Two Jakes), but never had a critical or box office success.

The Critics Vote

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The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. If you like Nicholson and/or offbeat humor, the first half is funny enough that you'll make it through the tedious second half.

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