Recently, Movie Churches got to see this year’s Best Picture winner in a theater, and if you're thinking that film was Nomadland, you would be wrong. Nomadland merely won the Best Picture Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. We're talking about the winner of the Drive In Academy's Best Picture award -- the coveted Hubbie -- presented by the nation’s preeminent drive-in reviewer, Joe Bob Briggs.
This year's Best Picture Hubbie (engraved on a genuine Chevy hubcap) was presented at the First Annual Joe Bob’s Drive-In Jamboree at the Mahoning Drive-In in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, and it was writer/director Jeff Wedding's second feature film, Tennessee Gothic. Based on a short story by Ray Russell, this certainly is a unique film.
Tennessee Gothic is the strange tale of a farmer (Victor Hollysworth) and his grown son, Caleb (William Ryan Watson). They find Sylvia apparently assaulted and abandoned -- near death -- and take her into their home. As she recovers from her injuries, she expresses her gratitude by taking on cooking and other chores, including farm work. Before long, she shows her gratitude to Caleb in more sensual ways, with a literal roll in the hay.
Most disturbingly, she then takes Paw, Caleb’s father, as her lover as well.
Actually, this might not be the most disturbing element of the film to us here at Movie Churches, because the Reverend Simms (Wynn Reichert) comes to the farm, concerned about the, shall we say, moral climate. He is concerned that Sylvia is underage and that it's not proper for her to be staying in the home of a widower and his young adult son. When he first visits the farm, the Reverend tells Paw it would be best if Sylvia went to live in a Home for Young Women.
But before any action is taken, the Reverend agrees to meet with Sylvia privately. She tells the Reverend she would like to stay on the farm. And she uses everything in her power to make her point -- including her sexual power. (As you might have guessed already, there are a number of graphic, sometimes humorous, sex scenes in the film.)
The Reverend agrees to allow Sylvia to stay on the farm if the Reverend could come back every Friday to provide “spiritual counseling” for the young woman. The form of this counseling ensures that our Movie Churches rating for the Reverend is our lowest, One Steeple.
It should be noted that he's married, and the dinner at the farm with Sylvia, Paw, Caleb, the Reverend Simms, and Mrs. Simms (Christine Poythress) is beyond awkward. From this scene on, it becomes obvious that while the men in the film deal with most matters rather ineffectively, it takes a showdown between the women to bring resolution to the film.