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Tuesday May 28th 2024

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry | 1974

British director John Hough takes on that most American of genres, the road movie, and uses the low budget to great effect – no studio sets, no process shots, no fakery…

The location was determined by the need for the vast walnut grove and the movie was shot around Stockton, northern California.

Every road movie needs a kickstart to set the characters off, and this comes with the robbery of a supermarket. The “nice little town” is Sonora, about 50 miles east of Stockton, where you can still find Save Mart, 130 West Stockton Street.

The manager is played by an uncredited Roddy McDowall, who contributed a day’s work for his friend Hough (who had directed him in The Legend Of Hell House).

Larry and Deke (Peter Fonda and Adam Roarke) find themselves inevitably lumbered with a cantankerous female partner, petty thief and compulsive fibber Mary (Susan George).

Once on the road, Larry and Deke attempt to dump her at ‘Ogilvie’s Grocery’ store, only to discover that the canny girl has hung onto their map. The store is Farmington General Store, 25520 East Hwy 4, in Farmington, about 15 miles east of Stockton.

Fleeing the law, Mary gets possibly the most redundant line ever used in a road movie, as their Chevy Impala approaches a raising bridge… “Hey, wait a minute – why aren’t we slowing down?” She’s clearly not aware of the golden rule of Hollywood, which states that whenever a bridge opens up, the near side always rises slightly faster than the far side, allowing speedy cars to make a clean leap across the gap.

The bridge can be seen on South Tracy Boulevard crossing the Grant Line Canal, a couple of miles north of Tracy, down to the southwest of Stockton.

‘Dutton Flats’, the swap meet where there’s an alternative car waiting, is 6th Street, a little cul-de-sac running south from State Route 88 at the eastern end of Clements, northeast of Stockton.

Roaring off in the stylish – if rather easily spotted – lime green ’69 Dodge Charger, they lay low for a game of pool at Bill's Beer, Pool & Gas Store, 19500 H-26 at Flood Road 5200N, in Linden – ‘No spitting, no swearing, no risqué women’. Or rather, ‘No riskew women’. You can’t get a beer or a game of pool here any more, but the building still remains.

It’s around the area of Linden that the extensive walnut groves in which they plan to hide out, and which dictated the location of the production, can be found.

The unexpectedly shocking ending was filmed just to the west of Linden, on Archerdale Road, just south of the junction with Ketcham Lane. You’ll be safe now – although the railway line is still there, the Stockton Terminal and Eastern Railroad is no longer running.

Robert Rossen’s multi-Oscar-winning 1949 version of All The King’s Men was filmed around the Stockton area, as was John Huston’s Fat City.