Return to Macon County


1h 29m 1975
Return to Macon County

Brief Synopsis

Two car-obsessed teenagers travel across the country to enter in a racing championship in California and pick up a girl who brings trouble along the way.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Action
Release Date
1975
Production Company
American International Pictures
Distribution Company
American International Pictures

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Synopsis

In the late 1950s, two teenage boys intend to drive their souped-up Chevy across the country to enter it in the National Championship drag race in California. On the way, they pick up a pretty waitress, who carries a gun and causes them lots of trouble; win a drag race with some punks who accuse them of cheating and follow them with rifles; and alienate a local policeman who becomes obsessed with putting them in jail and shoots holes in their car.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Drama
Action
Release Date
1975
Production Company
American International Pictures
Distribution Company
American International Pictures

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color

Articles

Return to Macon County


Anyone who saw Macon County Line (1974) during its shockingly successful theatrical run could easily understand the challenge of trying to mount a sequel, with its ending resolving the story on a very final note. Nevertheless, American International Pictures was happy to have a follow-up feature to the most lucrative film in its history, so another entry was commissioned anyway with no direct connection to the story of the first film. In the meantime, Macon County Line's creator Max Baer, Jr. and partner Roger Camras of Max Baer Productions were already using their cut of the grosses to finance their second film, J.J. McCulloch, which would mark Baer's directorial debut. The film would ultimately become The Wild McCullochs (1975) and prove to be far less successful for AIP than their inaugural film.

The writer and star of the original film, Baer was not involved in the production of Macon County II, the original title for what was ultimately released as Return to Macon County (1975). Formally announced in the trades on January 22, 1975, the sequel was launched quickly with production rolling in Forsyth, Georgia two days later. Filming wrapped on March 21st and the film opened in September the same year with particularly heavy play on the drive-in circuit. This time the original film's director, Richard Compton, not only stuck around but handled exclusive screenwriting duties as well.

More of a genteel PG-rated remake than a traditional sequel, the film once again follows a pair of young men who make the mistake of driving through Macon County after picking up a female traveling companion along the way. In this case our protagonists are Bo (Nick Nolte) and Harley (Don Johnson), a pair of racing enthusiasts on their way to a race in California, while the female lead, Junell, is played by Robin Mattson, a familiar drive-in face from Candy Stripe Nurses (1974) and Bonnie's Kids (1972) as well as a future soap opera fixture on General Hospital and Santa Barbara, among others. However, she wasn't the first choice for the role; actress Karen Lamm from TV's Police Woman (and on-and-off spouse of The Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson) was originally announced as the female lead, with Mattson replacing her a month later.

Obviously both of the male leads would go on to much more prominent careers in the following decades, though Johnson - a real-life auto racer himself - had already become a youth market star of sorts since his debut in the counterculture oddity The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970), which he followed with the "electric western" Zachariah (1971), the free love study The Harrad Experiment (1973), and his other big film from 1975, the science-fiction classic A Boy and His Dog. This year would mark the end of Johnson's big-screen career for many years, and he would mainly work in one-off TV appearances for years until his big break in 1984 as Crockett on the hit series Miami Vice.

Destined to become a three-time Oscar nominee, Nolte was more of an unknown quantity at the time with a string of supporting appearances on TV shows and minor films to his credit; however, he had proven himself in some of the stronger made-for-TV films of the era, most notably two aired in 1974, The California Kid (another great auto thriller) and Winter Kill. His easygoing charisma is well in evidence here already, and it was no surprise that he would soon break out in the landmark 1976 miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and a trio of pivotal starring roles to round out the decade with The Deep (1977), Who'll Stop the Rain (1978) and North Dallas Forty (1979).

Significantly less of a watershed film than the original Macon County Line, this successor neither hurt nor harmed the careers of those involved; Compton in particular kept chugging away, working on films like the violent Ravagers (1979) before turning to exclusively directing TV episodes until shortly before his death in 2007. Unlike the first film, this one managed to earn a soundtrack release on vinyl thanks to its barrage of golden oldie hits by the likes of Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson and Eddie Cochran; however, that dense soundtrack has also presented major legal clearance issues with the film legally unavailable on home video since its early VHS days. Nevertheless, the film has remained a motorhead favorite for generations for those lucky or determined enough to see it.

By Nathaniel Thompson
Return To Macon County

Return to Macon County

Anyone who saw Macon County Line (1974) during its shockingly successful theatrical run could easily understand the challenge of trying to mount a sequel, with its ending resolving the story on a very final note. Nevertheless, American International Pictures was happy to have a follow-up feature to the most lucrative film in its history, so another entry was commissioned anyway with no direct connection to the story of the first film. In the meantime, Macon County Line's creator Max Baer, Jr. and partner Roger Camras of Max Baer Productions were already using their cut of the grosses to finance their second film, J.J. McCulloch, which would mark Baer's directorial debut. The film would ultimately become The Wild McCullochs (1975) and prove to be far less successful for AIP than their inaugural film. The writer and star of the original film, Baer was not involved in the production of Macon County II, the original title for what was ultimately released as Return to Macon County (1975). Formally announced in the trades on January 22, 1975, the sequel was launched quickly with production rolling in Forsyth, Georgia two days later. Filming wrapped on March 21st and the film opened in September the same year with particularly heavy play on the drive-in circuit. This time the original film's director, Richard Compton, not only stuck around but handled exclusive screenwriting duties as well. More of a genteel PG-rated remake than a traditional sequel, the film once again follows a pair of young men who make the mistake of driving through Macon County after picking up a female traveling companion along the way. In this case our protagonists are Bo (Nick Nolte) and Harley (Don Johnson), a pair of racing enthusiasts on their way to a race in California, while the female lead, Junell, is played by Robin Mattson, a familiar drive-in face from Candy Stripe Nurses (1974) and Bonnie's Kids (1972) as well as a future soap opera fixture on General Hospital and Santa Barbara, among others. However, she wasn't the first choice for the role; actress Karen Lamm from TV's Police Woman (and on-and-off spouse of The Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson) was originally announced as the female lead, with Mattson replacing her a month later. Obviously both of the male leads would go on to much more prominent careers in the following decades, though Johnson - a real-life auto racer himself - had already become a youth market star of sorts since his debut in the counterculture oddity The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970), which he followed with the "electric western" Zachariah (1971), the free love study The Harrad Experiment (1973), and his other big film from 1975, the science-fiction classic A Boy and His Dog. This year would mark the end of Johnson's big-screen career for many years, and he would mainly work in one-off TV appearances for years until his big break in 1984 as Crockett on the hit series Miami Vice. Destined to become a three-time Oscar nominee, Nolte was more of an unknown quantity at the time with a string of supporting appearances on TV shows and minor films to his credit; however, he had proven himself in some of the stronger made-for-TV films of the era, most notably two aired in 1974, The California Kid (another great auto thriller) and Winter Kill. His easygoing charisma is well in evidence here already, and it was no surprise that he would soon break out in the landmark 1976 miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man and a trio of pivotal starring roles to round out the decade with The Deep (1977), Who'll Stop the Rain (1978) and North Dallas Forty (1979). Significantly less of a watershed film than the original Macon County Line, this successor neither hurt nor harmed the careers of those involved; Compton in particular kept chugging away, working on films like the violent Ravagers (1979) before turning to exclusively directing TV episodes until shortly before his death in 2007. Unlike the first film, this one managed to earn a soundtrack release on vinyl thanks to its barrage of golden oldie hits by the likes of Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Ricky Nelson and Eddie Cochran; however, that dense soundtrack has also presented major legal clearance issues with the film legally unavailable on home video since its early VHS days. Nevertheless, the film has remained a motorhead favorite for generations for those lucky or determined enough to see it. By Nathaniel Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1975

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1975