Georgia Peaches (1980)
Director: Daniel Haller
Writers: Mike Benderoth, Monte Stettin, William Hjortsberg and Lois Luger
Starring: Tanya Tucker Terri Nunn and Lane Smith

The Plot: Sue Lynn, also known as Peach Pit, works as a mechanic for herself at The Georgia Peaches Automotive. Her boyfriend Dusty isn’t as interested in the straight life and instead bootlegs moonshine with his suped up ride. Vivian Stark is the local crime kingpin, and she has had eyes on The Georgia Peaches for a long time. When she finally makes a proposition to buy them out, in order to fill the car yard with stolen vehicles, Sue Lynn turns her down and sprays her car down with oil. Sue Lynn’s sister, Lorette (played by real life country singing legend Tanya Tucker), has just made it in from Nashville after her singing career has recently began to take off. The family reunion has to be put on hold however, as the group is set-up by the evil Vivian Stark who has planted both stolen vehicles and moonshine on their property. Dusty, Sue Lynn and Lorette are carried off to jail but are then miraculously bailed out by an unknown entity. It turns out that treasury agent Randolph Dukane (played by veteran actor Lane Smith) was the one who provided the bail money, but in order to beat this wrap the group will have to go undercover within the criminal underworld of counterfeit cigarettes which are being carried over state lines. Will The Georgia Peaches manage to find a way out of this mess?

The Review
Continuing on with my coverage of these Roger Corman produced action capers, I next turned my interest to the Corman produced title Georgia Peaches which is a part of the Roger Corman Triple Feature Action Pack produced by Shout! Factory. Georgia Peaches is also known as The Georgia Peaches and Follow That Car, and has quite the interesting history. Originally produce as a feature length pilot for a future television show, the project ultimately never made the cut for whatever reason and has remained in relative obscurity until the recent re-release via Shout! Factory. Now, simply popping Georgia Peaches into your DVD player, one might not instantly recognize the project as something that was made with television in mind. For one, the quality of the print has held up spectacularly and this release of the feature looks better than many theatrically released films I have seen from the early 90’s, much less 1980. Secondly, the cinematography is certainly on par with any of the other films released on this three film DVD set. However, once you know about the film’s background, it becomes easier to spot just what makes the project a TV-movie. On general terms, the project is a mixed bag with many exciting elements as well as an equal number of mundane and boring pieces that do not add up to a cohesive whole. However, Georgia Peaches remains worth watching simply for its down home feel and great chemistry from its well put together cast.

There are two genres that a film such as Georgia Peaches seems to fall into, and as far as I can tell their names are but a new creation from this post-Tarantino re-evaluation of “grindhouse” and exploitation cinema. The two genres would be the aptly titled Hixploitation and Carsploitation subgenres of American exploitation, but if one wants to really start looking at these objectively, both genres line up together many times over. In fact, all three films from this Shout! Factory box set could equally be described in either of these subgenres. Georgia Peaches is a movie that is defined by its Southern pride, from the rebel flags and the authentic accents right down to casting a country music singer in the leading role. This is a project that breathes love and pride for Southern heritage. It seems that during the seventies and eighties the stigma of Southerners, and our apparent love for NASCAR, brought upon images of every hillbilly with a steady job owning some kind of suped up hotrod. Therefore movies such as this always seemed to have some kind of bad-to-the-bone automobile. To the point that the cars became the true focal point for many movies of this variety. Georgia Peaches is only different in the fact that the choice of car is a slightly more modern beast (well, for the time). The great Trans Am that Dusty drives throughout the movie almost seems like the kind of ride one might see cruising down Sunset strip rather than bolstering through the back alley dirt roads that are featured here, but it certainly has the muscle behind it to keep the action sequences exciting. The real difference here however is the near-science fiction level of gadgets that this car has attached to it.

In an unforgettable opening sequence, we get to see just what these gadgets can really do as our film jumps right into the action. The opening shot introduces us to one of the previously mentioned back roads on which we see two cops keeping an eye out for anyone who might be “running shine”. This activity apparently goes on during the broad daylight, which is an oddity that even the police officers remark on. We are ultimately lead into a fairly impressive chase sequence when the character Dusty comes barreling out of nowhere, a chase sequence that sees motorbikes flying off of bridges and car wrecks galore. This then leads to an epic “driving through fire” sequence as we see our leading man use spray nozzles out the back of his car which squirt his moon shine down the highway in a perfect stream. He flicks another switch inside of his car and this causes an explosion that lights the moonshine ablaze, completely covering the road in fire. A fire that he must then drive through! The entire sequence is completely implausible, but is ridiculously entertaining and makes promises early on in the movie that few films could possibly hope to make good upon. Unfortunately, due to its rather episodic nature, the comparison between the rambunctious opening and the sagging middle section of the film becomes very apparent. The third act, where we see Dusty and the two girls split up into two teams in order to go undercover and bust apart a criminal operation, is lacking in action but is plentiful in made-for-tv shenanigans. Expect a lot of joking, tom foolery and sneaking around uptight posers while the free spirited young women stick it to the man.

The strongest thing that Georgia Peaches has going for it is the cast. Their chemistry, their performances and their general enthusiasm are what makes this movie as good as it is. Being that Tanya Tucker was a famed country music singer at this point, one doesn’t expect a great deal from her performance, but surprisingly she is excellent in her role. It also doesn’t hurt that she is knock down beautiful here as Lorrette Peach. As someone who is used to seeing her as an older woman, it’s almost a revelation to find her to be so young and stunning. A talented actress, she is placed alongside many veteran character actors and rising stars from the time. Terri Nunn, who I am not familiar with, also provides a terrific performance in the lead as Sue Lynn Peach who is at first presented as more of a tomboy next to Lorette’s sexy city-girl glamor, but before long both women find themselves in some revealing attire and are shaking their money makers. Dirk Benedict makes the last of the trio, and he is as cocky and charismatic as he has ever been. Sporting an impressive Southern accent, he tends to take his character over the top, but in a movie such as this – it’s all about fun. An interesting role for Benedict, as it came after Battlestar Galactica and before The A-Team, but one that shouldn’t be forgotten as it’s the most active and outlandish that I have ever seen him.

The Conclusion
A film of many parts but not a brilliantly put together whole, I will say that I did like Georgia Peaches quite a bit despite some of my reservations. Overall, I end up giving it a three out of five. It is a solid action yarn with a stellar cast who put in some fun performances. Besides, where else are you going to see a young Tanya Tucker wear leather neon-blue tights? Not necessarily a “must see”, but certainly an incentive to pick up the Shout! Factory triple bill box set.