Cast & Crew
One night in the Georgia back country, rednecks Denton Cole, Hank and Jesse come to the Okefenokee Swamp to poach fish. In the glow of the moonlight, Hank spots a shadowy figure drag something to shore, then climb into a boat and paddle away into the swamp. Hank's friends discount his sighting, but when they walk to the dock, they find a man nearly dead from snakebite, his leg mangled, who mutters something about a girl in the swamp. The poachers quickly notify Swamp Ranger Jim Waters and Sheriff Ben Cutler about the injured man, who dies soon after. When the lawmen question the poachers about seeing the "swamp girl," a sylph rumored to dwell in the swamp, the men scoff and assert that a killer is roaming the area. Although the poachers offer to bring the killer to justice, Jim declares that he intends to search the swamp in his airboat, disgruntling the poachers. Some time later, noticing a torn piece of clothing snagged on some underbrush, Jim goes ashore to investigate and spots a glimpse of Swamp Girl as she runs into the brush. Jim chases her, but when he catches his foot in a poacher's trap, she comes to his aid. Once she removes the trap, Jim grabs her arm and although she at first struggles to get free, he gradually wins her trust by telling her that the traps are illegal. The girl, who has lived her life in the swamp and never been exposed to civilization, is pleased to discover that Jim's job is to protect wildlife and confides that she hates the traps, too. She says that her name is Janeen and that she lives with her father. Warning Janeen that some of the townspeople think that she is a killer, Jim offers to protect her and asks her to discuss the issue with her father. After Janeen promises to meet Jim the next day, she then goes to the shack she shares with her "Pa," who is a black man. When she tells Pa about Jim's offer to befriend and protect them, Pa reveals that although he raised her, he is not her father and that his name is Nat. When Janeen asks about her real father, Nat tells her about the past: As a boy, Nat is found in the swamp, half-dead from a snake bite, by the elderly Doc, who brings the injured boy to his hospital near the swamp. There Doc runs an abortion clinic, but if the woman is too far along to have an abortion, offers to place their newborn babies with reputable families. Unknown to the mothers, however, Doc sells the babies to rich Arab sheiks. Janeen is one of those babies, but because she is Nat's favorite, Nat begs the Doc to spare her. One day, when Janeen is a young girl, Doc sends Nat out on an errand. Becoming suspicious, Nat sneaks back and witnesses Doc about to sell the girl to two white slavers. When Doc demands more money, however, the slavers kill Doc and stuff the girl into a cloth sack. Nat follows the slavers into the swamp, where he kills both of them with his hatchet. When the slavers drop the sack onto the ground, however, a snake attacks the girl. Pulling her out of the sack, Nat sucks the poison from her body and when she finally recovers, she has lost all memory of Doc and the slavers. Now that Janeen knows of her past, Nat tells her that she needs a friend outside the swamp and urges her to meet Jim. Soon after, Carol Martin, an escapee from a prison farm, and her boyfriend Steve discover that their car has run out of gas during their drive across Georgia to the Florida state line. The shortest route to Florida is through the swamp, so the two tenderfoot fugitives head into the watery morass. The next morning, after Janeen goes to meet Jim, Carol and Steve come upon the cabin. With only one shell left in her rifle, the trigger-happy Carol shoots Nat, and when Janeen hears the shot, she runs back to the cabin and is taken hostage by the fugitives, who order her to lead them out of the swamp. While Jim waits for Janeen, Carol's parents, Ella and Gifford Martin, come to town hoping to find their daughter. After the Martins shrilly disparage the efforts of the law, Hank, Jesse and Denton also express their contempt for the law and offer to guide the Martins into the swamp. When Jim returns from the swamp, Ben meets him at the dock and tells him about the escape at the women's prison farm. As Jim wonders if the escape might have something to do with Janeen's failure to meet him, the sheriff's deputy calls with news that the Martins have hired Denton and his friends to lead them into the swamp. While Jim and Ben canvass the swamp in Jim's airboat, Denton and his friends drive to Eafe Turner's snake farm where they hog-tie Eafe and hang him over the snake pit to force him to divulge the location of the swamp girl's shack. Once Eafe tells them what they want to know, they cut the rope, sending him into the jaws of the snakes, then head to the cabin to coerce Janeen into finding Carol. In the swamp, meanwhile, Steve dies when he is sucked into a pit of quicksand. Realizing that the rifle is empty, Janeen runs away, and when Carol chases her, she falls into the water and is eaten by alligators. Hearing her screams, Martin and his guides head in that direction, and when Martin sees his daughter being devoured, he blames Janeen and fires his pistol at her, knocking her to the ground. Alerted by the shot, Jim and Ben head for the shore and Jim chases Martin into the bush, where he is attacked by snakes. Janeen, who has only been stunned, tells Jim that Carol and Steve killed Nat. After they all board the airboat, Jim radios for Ella and an ambulance to meet them at the dock. When they arrive, however, the doctor states that Martin cannot be saved. After Denton informs Ella that the swamp girl fed her daughter to the "gators," Ella lashes out at the girl. She abruptly halts her diatribe when Jim says Janeen's name and demands to know how the girl got that name. When Janeen replies that Nat told her that her mother wanted her baby named Janeen, which was the name of Ella's mother, Ella realizes that Janeen is the daughter she was forced to give up. Ella tearfully recounts that her boyfriend went to war before she was aware that she was pregnant. After he was killed in combat and Ella's pregnancy began to show, her parents threw her out of the house and she turned to Doc, who promised he would find the baby a good home. After Ella begs Janeen to let her make amends for the wrong she has done, Janeen promises Jim that she will return to civilization, but first wants to spend some time alone in the swamp, then paddles off into the backwaters.
Robert Neeson Sr.
Ronald R. Johnson
Ronald R. Johnson
Onscreen credits contain the following written acknowledgment: "Swamp locations courtesy of Okefenokee Swamp Park Waycross, Georgia-Managing Director Jimmy Walker-Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge, U. S. Dept. of Interior, Folkston, Georgia." Jay Kulp, who wrote the script and worked as producer and head cinematographer on Swamp Girl, was killed in a jeep accident on one of the final days of filming. Swamp Girl marked the screen debut of Simone Griffeth.