39 Stripes (1979)

Man, in 39 Stripes, Tim Ormond nearly makes a roundtrip, going from the young kid protecting a convict in Girl from Tobacco Road to playing a criminal himself, portraying Ed Martin, former chain gang convict who converted to Christianity in prison in 1944 and formed the HopeAglow Prison Ministries.

A life of petty crime led Ed into prison, a place where they whip you 39 times — there’s an old Jewish tradition that if you get hit 40 times, you die — when you screw up. But a letter from Ed’s sister’s friend Alfreda Enders saves Ed’s soul.

This is sadly the last film that Ron Ormond would make. He directed the film and co-wrote it with Tim. It isn’t berserk like his early work and is very settled down versus the excesses of movies like The Believer’s Heaven. But man, I love Tim as an actor. He’s like a bad Jerry Mathers, sounding like the Beav while speaking about how heavy Christ’s cross was as the music gets way too loud over him.

The poster for this is great, but I think Ron was getting tired. But when you succeeded in making movies that non-stop blow minds, from your time making quasi-mondo movies about hypnotism to films where swamp monsters, the mob and strippers all live in the same swamp, you get a last movie pass.

Then again, Tim pretty much makes this movie. The film sets him up to be a major preacher and when he gets the mic, he kind of warbles his way through it. But again, the Ormond family has so much good will in my life that I would make dinner for them and give them a room in my house and they wouldn’t even have to ask.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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