Harper Valley PTA (film)
Director Richard C. Bennett
Adaptations Harper Valley PTA (1981)
Initial DVD release May 31, 2005
Country United States
|Release date June 2, 1978 (1978-06-02)(limited release)August 2, 1978 (1978-08-02)(wide release)|
Writer George Edwards (screenplay), Barry Schneider (screenplay), George Edwards (story)
Cast Barbara Eden (Stella Johnson), Ronny Cox (Willis Newton), Nanette Fabray (Alice Finely), Ron Masak (Herbie Maddox), Susan Swift (Dee Johnson)
Similar movies Mad Max: Fury Road, John Wick, Furious 7, Salt, Taken 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Tagline The song was scandalous. The movie is hilarious!
Harper Valley PTA is a 1978 American comedy film inspired by the popular 1968 country song "Harper Valley PTA" written by Tom T. Hall and performed by country singer Jeannie C. Riley. The film starred Barbara Eden, Nanette Fabray, Ronny Cox, Louis Nye and Susan Swift, directed by Richard Bennett, and was mainly released to drive-in theaters throughout the summer of 1978. The film has a cult following in fans of the original song.
The film's promotional tagline is: "The song was scandalous. The movie is hilarious!"
Stella Johnson is a beautiful widowed single mother who lives in the town of Harper Valley, Ohio. She sells cosmetics door-to-door for the fictitious AngelGlo Cosmetics and is not afraid to enjoy life. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Dee, is a student at Harper Valley Junior High School.
After leaving school, Dee brings her mother a letter from the school's Parent Teacher Association board, which is led by the pompous and snobbish Flora Simpson-Reilly. The letter denounces her for her not following the societal mores of the day and the community and further stating that if she does not change her ways more to the board's liking, Dee will be punished for her mother's "sins" by being expelled from school.
Infuriated by the board's supposed superiority and their glaring hypocrisy, Stella storms to the PTA meeting being held that day, and proceeds to tell most of the PTA members off by exposing their hidden skeletons for the town to see.
After her house is TP'ed (Toilet-Papered) and a rock with a vile note attached is thrown through her window in retaliation, Stella prepares to get even with those who would want her driven out of town. She teams up with her friends, beautician Alice Finley and bartender Herbie Maddox, and (along with Dee's help) wreaks hilarious and justified revenge on six of the hypocritical PTA members, with methods including: 1) tricking a married male board member who has repeatedly tried to date Stella into a disastrous rendezvous, 2) embarrassing Mrs. Simpson-Reilly at one of her grand social gatherings, 3) exposing the secret antics of a supposedly prim-and-proper female board member/teacher, and 4) sending a herd of pink-painted elephants into the bedroom of a alcoholic board member.
During the course of the movie, she finds out that one of the male PTA members, wealthy Willis Newton (who was not a party to the PTA letter), has fallen in love with her.
Will and another male on the PTA board, Skeeter Duggan, the town's Notary public, are sympathetic to Stella and do not agree with Flora and her cronies. After being informed by Will of the current PTA Board's incompetence and mismanagement and with his help, Stella is convinced to make a run for President of the PTA, a move which infuriates Flora and her allies.
After a makeover, which sees her braces removed and her hair styled, Dee also finds a boyfriend in handsome Carlyle, a popular school track star, which incurs the jealousy of Bettina Reilly, the equally snobbish granddaughter of Flora. Also shown are Edwina, Bettina's identical twin sister who is just as snobbish as Bettina, and Dee's best friend Mavis.
Real estate agent Kirby Baker, a member of the PTA Board, plans to ruin Stella by foreclosing on her house (which his company owns), but is arrested for assaulting Myrna Wong, an Asian-American martial arts expert helping Stella to set up the lecherous Baker. Now things become more and more desperate.
The board finally decide to resort to criminal means to maintain the power they hold, which is fast slipping away thanks to Stella's growing popularity. The board members then decide to hire a couple of kidnappers named Dutch and Tex to have Skeeter abducted so they can commit election fraud.
The kidnappers snatch Skeeter as he is taking the trash out and take him in a nearby abbey, where he is imprisoned and made drunk on wine.
Olive Glover, the PTA's Recording Secretary who has a hardcore gambling addiction, has stolen money from the Milk Fund Rally, one of the PTA's numerous fund raisers, and intends to having Mavis framed for the crime and arrested. Leaving Dee to stall the PTA Board meeting, Stella and Alice follow Olive to a racing stable and recover the stolen money, some of which had been marked by Will.
As Stella and Alice race back to town, Will and Herbie spot the kidnappers and Skeeter outside the abbey from a helicopter and notify the girls. Disguised as nuns, Stella and Alice find Skeeter, free him and manage to escape with him after a wild car chase ending with the kidnappers crashing into a stream.
Ultimately, Flora's scheme to prevent Stella's nomination fails miserably: Olive, who would have been the swing vote against Stella, is arrested for embezzlement just as the PTA Board is about to vote against Stella's candidacy. Dutch and Tex, already in custody for the Skeeter Duggan kidnapping, tell the police that Flora was behind it all to keep Stella off the PTA Board.
Stella decisively wins the election and becomes the new PTA president, with the whole town voting to get rid of Flora and her snobbish friends. Will and Stella then fly off in his helicopter (which is trailing a sign saying "Stella Johnson for Mayor") to get married.
Cast and characters
Harper Valley PTA was filmed in twenty-seven days from October 3, 1977 to December 8, 1977. It was filmed on location for one week in the town of Lebanon, Ohio and then continued in Los Angeles, California. The track meet scene was filmed at Simi Valley High School
On October 31, 1977, production ceased temporarily when Nanette Fabray was knocked to the ground by a spooked elephant while shooting a scene involving pink elephants in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California; she suffered a severe concussion, bruises and back sprains and was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where her condition was reported as serious but stable. Following her recovery, filming resumed on November 30.
Harper Valley PTA opened in six theaters in Lebanon, Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio on May 23, 1978 in accordance with executive producer Phil Borack's plan to release the film first in smaller markets, where regional success could encourage exhibitors in bigger cities to book the film. The film grossed over $2 million its opening weekend, $5.8 million in its first three weeks and over $16 million after twelve weeks. The film opened in Los Angeles on August 2, 1978 and in New York City on January 12, 1979.
In June 1978, a soundtrack album was released on vinyl, cassette and 8-track tape by Plantation Records. To promote the film's release and its soundtrack, the title song by Jeannie C. Riley was re-issued as a single.
- "Harper Valley PTA" (Jeannie C. Riley) – 3:12
- "Dee's Visit" (instrumental) (Nelson Riddle) – 2:10
- "Mr. Harper" (Barbara Eden) – 2:22
- "Alice's Place" (instrumental) (Nelson Riddle) – 2:29
- "High School Confidential" (Jerry Lee Lewis) – 3:07
- "Willie Mae" (instrumental) (Nelson Riddle) – 2:01
- "Harper Valley PTA" (instrumental) (Nelson Riddle) – 1:55
- "Widow Jones" (Barbara Eden) – 2:38
- "Twin Tune" (instrumental) (Nelson Riddle) – 1:30
- "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" (Johnny Cash) – 2:51
- "Ice Cream Disco" (instrumental) (Nelson Riddle) – 1:48
- "Whatever Happened to Charlie Brown" (Rita Remington & Carol Channing) – 2:40
- "Ending (Reprise: Harper Valley PTA)" (instrumental) (Nelson Riddle) – 1:06
In 1981, Harper Valley PTA was made into a television sitcom (created by Sherwood Schwartz) which aired on NBC from January 1981 to May 1982. Barbara Eden reprised her role as Stella Johnson for the series which lasted two seasons and a total of 30 episodes were produced.
ReferencesHarper Valley PTA (film) Wikipedia
Harper Valley PTA (film) IMDb Harper Valley PTA (film) themoviedb.org