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  Nashville Girl How To Succeed In The Music Industry
Year: 1976
Director: Gus Trikonis
Stars: Monica Gayle, Glenn Corbett, Roger Davis, Johnny Rodriguez, Jessie White, Marcie Barkin, Shirley Jo Finney, Judith Roberts, Leo Gordon, Byron Warner, Diana Murrell, Adrian Marshall, Jonathan Leitz, Barbara Moore, Jack Irvin, Jane J. Jones
Genre: Drama, Trash, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jamie Barker (Monica Gayle) has one love in life: country music. She has plans, big plans, to make it to Nashville and start her singing career there, just like her idols Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and the like, but she has another reason to get away from her hick town, because she was recently raped by one of the locals and though her brothers did their best to track down the perpetrator, her father was unsympathetic. After he caught her listening to music on headphones in church, he even beat her to punish her, and there’s no way Jamie is prepared to go through any of that again. However, her chosen path to would-be stardom will be chequered...

Nashville was a major hit for director Robert Altman in 1975, summing up the culture of the United States of America as it stood slap bang in the middle of the decade, but how could the exploitation market cash in on this success? Apparently that was the most important element for Roger Corman, who greenlit this expose of the country music scene that left out the national politics that Altman was keen to bring up, and instead substituted social politics when the feminism that was a hot topic during the seventies was employed to give the heroine here more backbone than she might otherwise have had. And boy, did she need it with the men she meets.

Almost every male here was objectionable in some way: the film started as it meant to go on with the rape scene, but all the men Jamie encounters, with very few exceptions, take one look at her and wonder how they can sexually exploit her for their own satisfaction. The fact she's sixteen years old (Gayle was actually older, but just about gets away with passing for that age) doesn't put off these chauvinist pigs, if anything it encourages them, and the plot became a succession of scenes of Jamie fending off their advances. You think, it couldn't have been that bad, could it? Are we supposed to accept that showbiz attracted the worst of humanity in this way? Why yes, we are.

While it was the movies that Corman specialised in, watching this you wonder if he and his team had heard some horror stories, or knew some victims of what would, decades later, be termed #MeToo as there's a lot that's worryingly convincing about Jamie's mistreatment. Not that music stars wouldn't have their groupies and some would have a marvellous time, but the entitlement of the men in Nashville Girl grows ever more aggravating, culminating in the person of Glenn Corbett's character, a huge star who gives Jamie's career a boost by allowing her to tour with him and recording her self-penned songs. Before that it has been a rocky road to, if not the top, then gaining some kind of foothold anyway, and her innocence has been dispensed with somewhat brutally, used and abused as she is.

This included anything from being screwed out of any chance of profits by self-serving managers to being sent to juvenile prison for receiving a massage from some old goat who goes too far and calls the police on the parlour in revenge for getting chucked out. In the jail she is even assaulted by a lesbian guard in the showers, as if things were not bad enough, though she does get the woman sacked after she goes to the warden (who turns out to be a lot more understanding than many a women in prison flick official). Gayle's career petered out shortly after this, and nobody seems to know what happened to her; she was game for the nudity, though it's difficult to ignore the bruises on her skin and ponder what the tale was behind them. For a while she was promising in low rent efforts, but it was not to last, but you have to say she offers ample demonstrations that she was more than able to carry a movie in this, indeed she makes it worth watching because you end up invested in Jamie's story. Other than that, above average - the songs were impressive - but still sleazy. Music by Kim Richmond.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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