Nashville Girl (1976)

Country music. The songs are sad, the outfits are loud and rural audiences eat it up—and it just may be one of the nastiest businesses around. That’s according to this great exploitation movie from the drive-in heroes at Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, at least.

If you’re an attractive young woman with a few good original songs and a dream, don’t even think about making it in Nashville unless you’re willing to sleep with every tacky record producer and talent agent with a comb-over in town. While you’re waiting for your big break, know that the massage parlors are hiring. Their exclusively male and exclusively creepy clientele are waiting for you. Also, because this is New World and they’ll turn any movie into a women-in-prison flick if they can, even if it’s just for five minutes, you also might get arrested along the way and have to defend yourself against leering lesbian jailhouse guards.

Our frequently naked girl is Monica Gayle, in the middle of a short but distinguished B-movie career that also included work with Jack Hill and Ed Wood. As if this film wasn’t politically incorrect enough, her character is a 16 year old virgin to everything except getting beaten by her father after she’s caught listening to the country station through headphones in the middle of Sunday church services in her small town. When she runs away to the big city with nothing much more than her guitar, she’s tender meat. The very first scene is her skinny-dipping in a country pond while a wannabe rapist watches from the ground (a perfect example of Corman’s insistence that New World films start rockin’ ’em and sockin’ ’em in the first few minutes) and it doesn’t get any more family-friendly from there.

Yes, this film is sleazy. Yes, it’s low-budget and grimy. No, your grandma probably wouldn’t like it.

In a funny way though, this film doesn’t say anything that the world’s most staunch feminist wouldn’t agree with. In the middle of showing us Monica Gayle’s bare butt every ten minutes, this also stands as a stark portrait of how life can be Hell for a woman. Gayle can’t seem to step out for ten minutes without some creep-bag wanting to Tammy her Wynette. And ALL of these guys are total rodents. We’re not set up to like any of them. Even Glenn Corbett’s country star (got the spangly suits and everything), with his friendly face and haunted demeanor and businessman logic, lets all of this shit get to his head when he thinks his status entitles him to screw anyone he wants.

Meanwhile, Monica Gayle makes a few mistakes at the beginning because she’s young and stupid, but she becomes more seasoned and better at standing her ground with time.

She works to save her soul through Hell, which is the ultimate challenge, when you think about it. Fame and riches eventually become beside the point.