UNDERGROUND USA: INDIE CINEMA OF THE 80s - Paydirt (New Restoration!)

Live Set from DJ Totally Abuse

If The Grapes of Wrath and The Short Stories of Flannery O’Connor had a baby, and that baby was a pothead Erma Bombeck, you’d have something like Paydirt — French-American director Penny Allen’s 1981 Western gothic folktale of marijuana and morality.

A sun soaked, hazy pastoral set on a modest Oregon vineyard, Paydirt is at once a reverent ode to nature and a sly comment on the absurdity of certain down-home American morals, shot with a camera that lingers as if the lens itself were stoned off of nature’s best. As Allen’s growers hand their children cups of homemade hooch at dinner and shirk the no-good habits of their marijuana-cultivating neighbors, they tend in secret to their true pride: illegal cannabis plants that drip with trichomes. Such is the backdrop for what becomes an ingenious thriller of heists, revenge, sex in the sunlight, and feminine heroism, based on the true stories of illegal 80s marijuana growers who saw their crops rent from the ground by gun-toting ne’er-do-wells. With a screening date two days out from our beloved 4/20, Paydirt’s sensual canna-matography and wry, understated humor is an appropriate lead to one of California’s (and the Cinefamily’s) favorite holidays.

Dir. Penny Allen, 1981, DCP Restoration, 95 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!