Common Law Wife (1963) is a hoot, as most period exploitation films are. This film, directed by the infamous schlockmeister Larry Buchanan and Eric Sayers, gets a lot of mileage out of the white trash melodrama genre.
Nasty old oil miser Uncle (love the name) Shugfoot Rainey (George Edgley) is bored with his worn out, tired-looking, live-in waitress girlfriend Linda (Anne MacAdams). Still, Linda is no pushover and proves it when she refuses to flinch while that mean old Uncle Shug throws darts at her head. But, after five years, Uncle Shug wants new tail, which he plans to get through his niece (!) Baby Doll (Lacey Kelly). Baby Doll is built like a French brick house and Linda, feeling like yesterday’s washrag, ain’t havin’ none o’ that!
Baby Doll, fresh from her job as a New Orleans stripper, is plenty willing to put out for some of her uncle’s assets, but she meets a road block in the rejected Linda. That heifer Linda has went and gotten herself a lawyer! Linda’s found out that she don’t haveta go nowhere, cause according to the law, she’s a… COMMON LAW WIFE! What is Shugfoot gonna do? “She’s lived with ya for five years, Shugfoot! That makes her your common law life according to the law!” “Well, gosh darn it, then change the law!” “You can’t change the law Shugfoot, no matter how much money ya got!”
Baby Doll has a past in her uncle’s town. Among her conquests she used and abused was the Sheriff. Now, Baby Doll, thwarted by Linda, plans to get her hooks into Uncle Shug and bust up the Sheriff’s marriage in the process.
Uncle Shug is jealous of the Sheriff. The sheriff’s wife and Linda are jealous of Baby Doll, the local boys can’t keep their eyes of the walking brick house, and when stinky old Uncle Shug finally croaks, you can bet hell hath no fury like women scorned! Cue flying fur!
Baby Doll goes a skinny dippin’, Baby Doll drives the Sheriff crazy, Baby Doll gets chased through the swamp by a potbellied moonshiner! Baby Doll doesn’t know it, but Linda’s now a pistol packin’ mama! The downbeat, brutal ending, enhanced by gritty camerawork, is icing on this sleaze-o-rama cake.
Both Sinister Cinema and Something Weird Video have competing dvd releases of Common Law Wife. Something Weird pairs the film with Jennie:Wife Child (1968) which is another buxom tart/old redneck man exploitation flick with a skinny dipping scene and a ultra hip trash score. Another “bonus” is Moonshine Love (1970) , which is essentially a soft core, tiresome nudie about a naked babe (?) and a carrot. Sinister Cinema’s version has equally good mastering, but comes with no bonuses. However, it was once available in that company’s priceless Drive-In Double Features, which are returning after a bit of a hiatus. A third DVD release is on the inexpensive and low-grade transfer label Alpha Video. Alpha pairs Wife with the equally indispensable Shanty Tramp (1967). Regardless which DVD version you choose, Common Law Wife is best enjoyed with a lot of company and plenty of cheap beer.