Rod Steiger and Robert Ryan are the heads of the backwoods feuding families – the Feathers and the Gutshalls – in this variable drama.
The two sides have been brought to the brink of violence by a land dispute and matters come to a head with a bizarre case of mistaken identity.
Hoping to create internal friction amongst the Feather siblings, Ludie Gutshall (Kiel Martin) mails a postcard from the non-existent “Lolly-Madonna” to the Feather home and allows the brothers to puzzle over who has attracted her attentions.
The prank begins to turn ugly when Thrush (Scott Wilson) and Hawk kidnap Roonie Gill (Season Hubley), a woman passing through town en route to meet her fiancée, believing that she’s the “Lolly Madonna” they’ve heard about.
A strong supporting cast includes Jeff Bridges, Randy Quaid and Gary Busey, and director Richard C Sarafian (Vanishing Point) piles a lot of enthusiasm into the mayhem.
Unfortunately, the film’s mood-swings make it only a superior example of Peckinpah-lite.
Later retitled Fire in the Meadow for its VHS release.
Sister E. Gutshall
Richard C Sarafian