Book Vs Movie: “Harper Valley PTA”
The 1968 Song Vs the 1978 Movie (really!)
Ever since the pandemic began, we decided to create a new show each week (rather than biweekly which has been our habit for over six years now) the sources of adaptations have expanded to magazines, novellas, and songs. You would assume a shorter source would make for shorter episodes but, they can bring on just as much of a discussion as a novel.
This brings us to today’s subject of our podcast–Harper Valley PTA. The song was written by Tom. T. Hall and performed by country singer Jeannie C. Riley in 1968. The story about a “widowed bride” who is slut-shamed by her daughter’s junior high school PTA (Parents Teachers Advisory) and gives a takedown at a meeting that is spectacular in its shade and incisiveness was one of the first feminist anthems and managed to become a number one hit in the U.S. on both the pop and country charts. (Past episode Dolly Parton did the same in 1980 for 9 to 5!)
The 1978 movie is an R-rated cuckoo bananas production starring Barbara Eden (a stone-cold fox!) as Stella Johnson who exacts a Porky’s style revenge on the local yokels who dare to take her on. She also is wooed by an equally sexy Ronny Cox and is teamed up with Nanette Fabray in this film that played in drive-in theaters in 1978 and made millions.
It features nudity, wrap dresses, elephants, revenge porn, makeovers, and a helicopter proposal.
So between the song and the movie–which did we prefer? Have a listen and find out!
In this ep the Margos discuss:
- The origin of the song and famous recordings
- The unusual release of the movie
- 1970s feminism
- The cast: Barbara Eden (Stella Johnson, ) Ronny Cox (Willis Newton,) Nanette Fabray (Alice Finley,) Louis Nye (Kirby Baker,) Audrey Christie (Flora Simpson Reilly,) John Fielder (Bobby Taylor,) and Susan Swift (Dee Johnson.)
- Harper Valley PTA (Jeannie C. Riley)
- Harper Valley PTA (Stella approaches the PTA meeting)
- Ode to Billy Joe by Bobbie Gentry
- Return to Harper Valley by Jeannie C. Riley
- Stella and Alice sing together
- The Sex Ed teacher gets her comeuppance
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