The Windsplitter


1h 35m 1971

Brief Synopsis

Bobby Joe leaves his hometown of Houston and goes to Hollywood where he becomes a big star. Houston is proud of his success and he is invited home to crown the homecoming queen. But when Bobby Joe returns with long hair, wearing scruffy clothes, and riding a huge motorcycle, he is seen as an embarra

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1971
Premiere Information
World premiere in Houston, TX: 11 Jun 1971; Los Angeles opening: 22 Dec 1971
Production Company
Pop Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Futurama International, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Columbus, Texas, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m

Synopsis

Ten years after leaving his hometown of Columbus, Texas, actor Robert Brandon becomes successful in Hollywood and is invited to return to crown the homecoming queen. When he arrives on his motorcycle, many of his former neighbors, who know him as the clean-cut Bobby Joe Smith, are shocked to see his mustache and long hair. Although his mother Madge and sister Annie realize that he is essentially the same good-hearted person he was before, his conservative father Ave, a low-salaried storekeeper's assistant, greets him coldly and cuts off his attempt to explain that his appearance is part of his work. Immediately, the sanctimonious Reverend Buford Jenkins, who disapproved of Bobby Joe's invitation, persuades the town officials to treat Bobby Joe with suspicion, claiming that the citizenry needs to be protected from evil outside influences. Meanwhile, Bobby Joe renews his acquaintance with his childhood friend R. T., a gas station mechanic who admires his motorcycle and jokes that it reminds him of the movie Easy Rider . When they go to a bar to talk, a local bully, Louis Wilson, and his two brothers harass Bobby Joe for having long hair, and Louis traps him in the women's toilet, where he humiliates him and threatens him with a knife. Sheriff Claude is called in to intervene, but he presumes that Bobby Joe is partially to blame for the altercation. Later that evening, Bobby Joe drops by the church to visit Buford's daughter Jenny, his old high school sweetheart, who, since her mother's death, has given up college and romance to help her father with his church work. Bobby Joe generously signs autographs for the children attending a church meeting and afterward sits with Jenny on an outdoor bench, where he describes the superficiality of his life in Hollywood and tells her how excited he is to be home. Realizing that their feelings for each other still exist, they start to kiss, but Buford interrupts them. Buford then calls an impromptu meeting of the town leaders, which includes Claude, the mayor, Si, and Gaston, in which he insists that they have created a "monster." Although the men are at first doubtful, Buford convinces them that Bobby Joe's influence could lead the young people into drugs, orgies, nudity, Communism and perversions and they decide to cancel Bobby Joe's participation in the homecoming events. During the night, Bobby Joe awakens to the sounds of gunshots and discovers that Louis and his brothers have killed his beloved family dog, Maggie. Sorrowfully, Madge suggests to Bobby Joe that he return to California, as she is afraid that the locals, who do not understand him, will kill him. The next day, Madge, in tears, tells Jenny that Bobby Joe has refused to call the sheriff about the killing, because he does not want to make trouble for the people who invited him. Ave, a man who hides his feelings and is concerned about appearances, tells Bobby Joe that he is being asked not to participate in the homecoming events. Although Ave feels that the killing of Maggie was shameful and is sorry that the townspeople have rejected Bobby Joe, he explains that they cannot let him associate with students because he is a "freak." While riding home, Bobby Joe passes two fellow motorcyclists who were attacked by the Wilson brothers at a gas station. Seeing that the Wilsons appear to be waiting in their old car to ambush them outside of town, Bobby Joe escorts them out of town via a back route. Upon Bobby Joe's return, the Wilsons proceed to chase him, but he escapes by riding into a field, where their car gets stuck and damaged. Later in town, when Bobby Joe expresses his surprise to R. T. that Jenny never married, his friend explains that many young men were interested, but Buford discouraged them. Although R. T. admits that Bobby Joe's appearance took the town by surprise, he believes that most of the town is not as hateful as the Wilson boys. However, for his safety, R. T. encourages Bobby Joe to leave. Later, when the Wilsons bring their car to R. T.'s station to be repaired, Buford happens to drive in to buy gasoline. Insinuating that Bobby Joe and Jenny had sexual relations, Louis and his brothers report to the preacher that the couple was seen riding together on the motorcycle and offer to help him get rid of Bobby Joe. Because he considers the Wilsons as bad as Bobby Joe, Buford refuses to associate with them. Meanwhile, Jenny and Bobby Joe spend the day together, riding his motorcycle and playing Frisbee with local students. Later, Bobby Joe tells Jenny how surprised he was by questions they asked him, such as whether he smokes marijuana, and expresses concern that the townspeople are too quick to label a person who wears different clothes. After admitting that they are still in love with each other, Jenny agrees to accompany Bobby Joe to California. However, that night when she returns home, Buford shocks her by accusing her of sleeping with Bobby Joe. When she says she plans to leave with him, Buford forbids her to go, saying that he and the church people rely on her. She reminds him that she is twenty-eight and never been married, but Buford says that "people of our calling" get their reward in heaven. Although she is filled with regret, she agrees to stay, but only after Buford promises to leave Bobby Joe alone. During the night, the Wilsons sabotage Bobby Joe's motorcycle. The next day, R. T. sees Buford talking intently to the Wilsons and suspects that they are planning to harm Bobby Joe. Unable to reach the Smiths, R. T. calls Jenny, who, after driving out to the Smith home to warn him, discovers that he is preparing to appear at the homecoming uninvited and speak, because he feels the students deserve to hear the truth. When she cannot convince him to change his mind, she rides with him on his motorcycle to the homecoming. On the way, the Wilsons chase them and Bobby Joe again tries to evade them by riding into a field, but the cycle breaks down. After ordering Jenny to run, Bobby Joe remains to face the three Wilson brothers, who beat him repeatedly until he is unconscious. When Jenny runs back to help him, one of the thugs hits her on the head with a large stick and she collapes. Just then, Claude and his deputy arrive, arrests the Wilsons, and calls for an ambulance. Claude then takes the injured Bobby Joe to confront Buford outside the auditorium, where the students have just been told that Bobby Joe's appearance has been canceled. With great emotion, Bobby Joe accuses the town officials of making presumptions about him, without trying to get to know him. In reply, Buford declares that he recognizes him as the enemy and will defeat him. Bobby Joe responds that he loved the town and wanted to share his success, and that he just wanted to come home. Aware of the crowd of students surrounding them, Buford preaches that he can come home and back to righteousness. In a loud, theatrical fashion, Buford announces that God's vengeance will be satisfied, adding triumphantly, "As you have witnessed today." Bobby Joe then says that he hopes His vengeance has been satisfied, because Jenny is dead. When Claude confirms that the Wilson boys killed her, Buford breaks down and cries.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1971
Premiere Information
World premiere in Houston, TX: 11 Jun 1971; Los Angeles opening: 22 Dec 1971
Production Company
Pop Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
Futurama International, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Columbus, Texas, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although most of the cast is credited in the ending credits, along with their character names, several are listed onscreen only in the opening credits. Opening credits state that Pop Films, Inc. copyrighted the film in 1971, but the film was not registered for copyright. According to the Variety review, the film was written, produced, directed and financed by Houston citizens. The ending credits state that the film was shot in Columbus, TX, a town located about one hour's drive west of Houston, "through the facilities of Feigelson, Giertz & Hall, Inc. Houston, Texas." A September 17, 1970 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that shooting would begin on October 12, 1970.
       A July 1970 Variety article stated that the script was based on a story by director Julius D. Feigelson and was being co-written with producer David L. Ford. The DVD version of the film added an acknowledgment card at the end of the film, reading: "In Memory of David L. Ford, Producer." Ford, who produced two other films shot in Texas, the 1980 Hotwire and the 1986 Uphill All the Way, died in 2003. The Windsplitter marked the first onscreen appearance of director Tobe Hooper, who portrayed "Joby" in the film. Hooper directed, among other films, the 1974 horror classic Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 11, 1971

Released in United States Summer June 11, 1971