Jackson County Jail (film)

Jackson County Jail is an American exploitation crime thriller film from 1976 directed by Michael Miller, starring Yvette Mimieux, Tommy Lee Jones, and Robert Carradine.

Jackson County Jail
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Miller
Produced byJeff Begun
Roger Corman
(executive producer)
Written byDonald E. Stewart
StarringYvette Mimieux
Tommy Lee Jones
Robert Carradine
Music byL. Loren Newkirk
CinematographyBruce Logan
Edited byCaroline Biggerstaff
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • April 11, 1976 (1976-04-11)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2.3 million (rentals)[1][3]


Dinah Hunter (Yvette Mimieux) is an advertising executive living in Los Angeles who quits her job after arguing with a client and comes home to find her boyfriend in the swimming pool with another woman. Sick of his constant philandering, she calls a friend and gets her old job back in New York City. Driving cross-country from Los Angeles, Dinah picks up a young man, named Bobby Ray (Robert Carradine), and his pregnant girlfriend Lola (Nancy Lee Noble). That night, Bobby Ray and Lola rob Dinah and steal her car and purse. Dinah walks into an empty bar and asks Dan Oldum, the bartender, to use his phone to call the police to report the robbery, but the barman attempts to rape her, and after she defends herself, a policeman, named Deputy Burt, arrives and Oldum lies by telling him that Dinah attacked him. With no money or identification on her, the policeman believes Oldum and arrests Dinah and takes her to the Jackson County jail.

The next day, Dinah is in a jail cell next to Blake (Tommy Lee Jones), a drifter whom she witnessed getting arrested earlier after a car accident. Sheriff Dempsey explains to Dinah that until he can get through to Los Angeles or New York to verify her identity, she has to stay in jail. He then tells Blake that he is to be extradited to Texas for a murder charge. That evening, the night jailer, Deputy Hobie, assaults Dinah in her cell and rapes her. After he finishes, she grabs a wooden stool and beats him to death. Blake reaches through the bars and takes his keys, opens both cells, and drags Dinah outside to steal Hobie's pickup truck. Sheriff Dempsey witnesses them escaping and gives chase only to run head-on into another car driven by a drunk driver resulting in the deaths of both the sheriff and the other driver.

Blake takes Dinah to a run-down barn out in the hills to hide out where he meets up with some friends who let Dinah clean up and give her a change of clothes. As Blake and Dinah are leaving, two officers from the Bakersfield police show up and tell everybody to surrender. Blake's friends pull out machine guns and hold off the police while Blake and Dinah escape in the pickup truck.

After driving through pastures and dirt roads, they find an empty ranch house to hide in for the night. Listening to the news, they discover that they are both wanted for Hobie's death. Dinah wants to turn herself in, but Blake explains that it does not matter that she was raped; she killed a cop and that with both her rapist and Sheriff Dempsey dead and unable to collaborate her self-defense story, she will be arrested and not receive a fair trial for Blake claims that all small town police are corrupt and will see her put away for life or given the death penalty. He says that, since she doesn't have a criminal record, she could just live the rest of her life as a fugitive, pointing out that her life as she knows it is already over and that no policeman will ever believe her side of the story due to the circumstances.

The next morning, they are awakened by the shotgun-carrying owner of the ranch. Blake knocks the shotgun out of man's hand and the two crash through a window. During the fight, the rancher wounds Blake with a scythe and is about to kill him when Dinah puts a gun to the man's head and knocks him out. Blake and Dinah jump into the pickup with Dinah driving. A police helicopter spots them and radios the Fallsburg police who are all at a Bicentennial parade.

The Fallsburg police chief orders his men to make a roadblock using a tractor-trailer. Dinah drives right into the trap and the police open fire, hitting Dinah in the shoulder. Blake tries to help Dinah to escape on foot, but she is too badly wounded. Blake leaves Dinah behind while he and the police exchange gunfire as he runs through the town and into the parade. The police fatally gun him down as he knocks over a standard bearer and Blake dies lying on the American flag. The police chief drives up with the wounded Dinah in the back seat and she stares at Blake's dead body before he drives away to take her to the town's jail. The film suddenly ends on this bleak and downbeat note.


Production notes

The film is one of several so-called “drive-in” films that were presented as true stories (à la 1972's The Legend of Boggy Creek, 1974's The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, 1975's Macon County Line and 1976's The Town That Dreaded Sundown) when most, if not all, of what was portrayed on screen was outright fiction.


The film has become a cult movie. [4] In 1996, it was selected by film director Quentin Tarantino for the first Quentin Tarantino Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

Film critic Danny Peary lists the film as one of his "Must See" Films in his Guide for the Film Fanatic (1986).[5]


  1. Christopher T Koetting, Mind Warp!: The Fantastic True Story of Roger Corman's New World Pictures, Hemlock Books. 2009 p 100-102
  2. FILM CLIPS: Hedging Bets on 'Missouri' Deal Kilday, Gregg. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 Aug 1976: f7.
  3. "Big Rental Films of 1976". Variety. January 5, 1977. p. 14.
  4. Jackson County Jail. "Jackson County Jail Movie Trailer, Reviews and More". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2015-12-18.
  5. "List of Peary's "Must See" Films". Retrieved 29 May 2012.
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