Filmed down in Florida and originally released in 1959, You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! was originally known as Touch of Flesh. Of the two titles, I prefer You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! While I’m sure that Touch of Flesh, as a title, was good for convincing horny teenager boys at Southern drive-ins to contribute to the film’s the box office, it’s also a rather boring title. You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie!, however, is properly histrionic and over-the-top. It’s the perfect title for a perfectly pulpy film.
You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! takes place in Dentonville, Florida, which is one of those small Southern towns where you can sit out on your porch and watch the mist hang over the bayous while you attempt to survive both the humidity and the crazy rednecks who apparently make up the entire population of the town. Dentonville is the home of the wealthy Dr. Denton (Charles Martin), a casually corrupt man who rules with the help of a dim-witted sheriff.
Dr. Denton has a daughter named Joan (Jeanne Rainer), a spoiled and promiscuous hedonist who spends all of her spare time seducing boys from the wrong side of the tracks. When Joan gets together with the dumb but decent Eddie (Ted Marshall), the end result is that Joan gets pregnant. Joan announces that she’s going to get an abortion but guess who wants to both be a father and have an oppurtunity to become a part of the most powerful family in town? Even after Joan tells him that she has no interest in getting “fat and sick and ugly,” Eddie demands that she not abort her child.
Dr. Denton reacts by having Eddie framed for a crime and thrown in jail. However, Eddie’s friend Vicky (Sue Ellis) knows a lawyer who can get Eddie out of jail. So, what choice does Joan have but to grab a gun and chase Eddie through the swamps while shooting at him?
You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! is a wonderfully odd and sordid piece of Southern gothic. Along with featuring everything that you might expect from a film like this — overheated dialogue, unapologetic overacting, and over-the-top plotting, You Ruined Me, Eddie! is distinguished by Jeanne Rainer’s ferocious performance as Joan. Whether she’s taunting Eddie or dancing around her bedroom in her underwear or demanding that her father help her find the best abolitionist in Tampa, Jeanne Rainer turns Joan into such a determined force of nature that she becomes the unexpected heroine of the film. By the end of it, you can’t blame her for wanting to get boring old Eddie out of her life. He would only slow her down.
You’ve Ruined Me, Eddie! is not an easy film to find. However, it has been released on DVD by Something Weird Video as a double feature with The Shame of Patty Smith, a film that will be reviewed in a future installment of this melodramatic series.