The Great Texas Dynamite Chase (1976) – By Duane L. Martin

Candy Morgan (Claudia Jennings) has just been released from prison. While she was in there, she had worked on a crew that used dynamite for…well, whatever they used it for. As you can probably tell by the title of the film, she helped herself to some on the way out. Unfortunately, while she was inside, her family’s farm was getting deeper and deeper in trouble, and just as she got out of prison, they were facing forclosure. To help them out, she got the idea to rob a bank using a stick of dynamite. That’s where she met Ellie-Jo Turner (Jocelyn Jones), a teller who had just been fired and who was tired of life and was happy to finally have something exciting happening. She gathered up all the cash and gave it to Candy, and then Candy made her escape while Ellie-Jo watched happily. Later on however, Candy ran into Ellie-Jo walking along the road and offered her a ride. Ellie-Jo suggests they team up to pull off more robberies. While hesitant at first, Candy finally decides it’s not such a bad idea, and the two go on a spree of bank robberies that made them famous, and also extremely wanted. Along the way, they picked up a hostage named Slim (Johnny Crawford) while they’re in a grocery store. They weren’t planning on robbing the place, but they were recognized and ended up having to take Slim as a hostage to escape. Naturally, Slim did what any red blooded guy would do when kidnapped by two beautiful women. He joined up with them, and then together they continued on their spree of robberies. Unfortunately, with the law hot on their trail, all good things have to come to an end, and the ending of this film isn’t exactly a happy one, though it’s not as bad as you might expect.

This is the main feature of Shout Factory’s triple feature release of Roger Corman’s Cult Classics Action Packed collection. It’s also far and away the best film of the three.

What makes this film so great is actually a combination of two things. First, the story is very well written, and it allows the characters plenty of freedom to have personalities and to enjoy life. This makes them likeable, thereby making you care about them. Second, over and above the characters are the actresses who play the two leads, Claudia Jennings and Jocelyn Jones. They did more than just play the characters, they brought them to life and made them feel real. These were two girls you’d love to know and hang out with. So much so in fact, that by the time you get to the scene in the hotel room, you’ll really be hating Slim, the lucky bastard. When two actresses can bring out the personalities of their characters the way Claudia and Jocelyn did, it really makes them sparkle on the screen and adds a specialness to the film that it may not otherwise have had. Sadly, Claudia Jennings’ life was cut short by an auto accident in 1979. She was only 29 years old. She was a wonderful actress and could have had a great life and career ahead of her.

The robbery scenes in the film were particularly fun. About half the time, the dynamite sticks turned out to be duds and basically just shot some flame in the air like a flare. While this would have been a huge pain in the ass to someone trying to rob a bank, it served a great purpose in the film itself. You never knew if a stick was going to blow or be a dud. So when they used them to rob banks, blow open safes, escape from the cops, etc…, you never really knew if it’d work or not. This added an extra layer of exitement and tension to the story that made it all the more fun.

This film is by far the shining star of this Triple Feature release from Shout Factory, and it alone is the sole reason for buying this release. It’s nice to get a couple of extra films with it, but this film really steals the show. While there isn’t anything other than trailers as special features, it really doesn’t matter. This film is worth the price of the entire package by itself, and it’s definitely one you’ll want to have in your collection.

If you’d like to order yourself a copy of this very reasonably priced release, you can order it from Shout Factory here or pick it up at any of the normal DVD outlets. Do yourself a favor and get it, even if it’s just for this one film. You won’t regret it.