Directed by: Michael Pressman
Texas seems to be the best place in America to tell stories about desperate people in forgotten small towns that aren’t even marked on the map. ‘The Great Texas Dynamite Chase’ opens with the kind of copper coloured scenery that screams hard toil. You can’t imagine anything would grow under the unrelenting burning sun. An auburn haired beauty dressed in baby blue prison attire runs across the field as glorious country music plays. This was a time when songs in movies were quite literal, so a woman sings “dynamite, dynamite”.
The auburn haired woman is named Candy, played by the late 1970 Playmate of the Year Claudia Jennings. Candy decides to rob a bank to pay for her family home which is under the risk of being repossessed. Her plan involves using dynamite as a bargaining tool. She became familiar with demolition when doing work in prison, so it makes sense to grab a few sticks and light a fuse before the big boom. She walks in to the small town bank, and calmly states her demands as the fuse burns. Candy gets away with the loot. The traumatic event leaves an impression on Ellie-Jo, a bank teller who lost her job seconds before the robbery took place. Whilst her former colleagues all stood around petrified, Ellie-Jo revelled in the excitement and was very helpful to the bank robber. It was almost like a game.
‘The Great Texas Dynamite Chase’ seems like a prototype ‘Thelma & Louise’. A day after the robbery Candy picks up Ellie-Jo on the roadside in a moment of serendipity. Ellie-Jo surprises Candy by saying “I got an idea, let’s rob another bank!” There’s no real build up to this, Candy is a girl with nothing to lose, who knows nothing but the life of crime, she doesn’t need to be convinced, even from a stranger she’s picked up by the side of the road. Ellie-Jo is a bored former bank worker who is desperate for excitement. Likely, the first time for a while that she truly felt alive was when she was caught up in the bank robbery. Perhaps suffering from Stockholm syndrome she is immediately drawn to Candy, who represents everything she isn’t.
The film never stands still, and doesn’t really allow for much reflection, the ladies are caught in the moment, going from adventure to adventure. Robbing banks, holding up convenience stores and having plenty of guilt free sex; this means there’s not a great deal of character development. It is disappointing that we don’t learn more about our two anti-heroines.
Candy and Ellie-Jo manage to outwit some of the dimmest policemen in film history. There is a car chase almost as outrageous as the one from ‘The Blues Brothers’. I can’t help but think that the film is missing a Frank Hamer (‘Bonnie and Clyde’) figure, an authority figure, an uptight lawman, who is trying to track down the dynamite bank robbers. The police just tend to spring up like they do in Grand Theft Auto, seemingly out of nowhere.
‘The Great Texas Dynamite Chase’ breaks the mould, in that women are outlaws on the run. They have the control, and the men in the film are the damsel figures, the hopeless pieces of arm candy. Be it Jake, the eternally shirtless hunk who is used and exploited for explosives, or the hapless Slim who is picked up as a hostage at a convenience store. I’m not a hundred percent sure whether the film was intended to be an exercise in feminism. It could be also be interpreted as a titillating sexploitation flick. I suppose however you look at it; there ‘The Great Texas Dynamite Chase’ provides a little something for everyone.