We are in familiar territory as BUS RILEY'S BACK IN TOWN begins in 1965: a greyhound bus pulls in and a marine in white gets out and looks around his old town - its Bus Riley back after 3 years in the navy and trying to settle back into small town life and look for a suitable job.
It is familiar William Inge territory but this is William Inge-lite without all the heavy drama of PICNIC, ALL FALL DOWN, SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS, THE STRIPPER etc - Bus (Michael Parks) is a good-natured chap who does not think too deeply about things and is soon happy back with lovable mother (Jocelyn Brando), adoring younger sister (Kim Darby), sniping older sister (Mimsy Farmer) and local girl Janet Margolin who has to move in with them and who is so obviously the girl for Bus. There is also a very William Inge spinster teacher who gets the vapours at the sight of Bus in his underwear and comes down with a migraine at the thought of a man in the house, so she soon departs.
There is also that mortician acquaintance who can fix Bus up with a job - but, as he places his hand on Bus's knee and thigh, tells Bus how lonely he is and wants Bus to move in with him and his mother (Hitchcock's BIRDS expert and BILLY LIAR's grandmother) Ethel Griffies. Bus sighs wearily and instead settles for being a door to door salesman and is soon a hit with those lonely housewives (cue Alice Pearce as a rather dotty one). Then there is Laurel - Ann-Margret of course top-billed here and the posters are all about her, as Bus's old girlfriend who has married money while he was away and drives around town in her swish car looking for him. He resists her at first but she soon has him in her pool as her husband is away a lot and she wants Bus back big time.
Parks was later terrific and suitably scuzzy in Tarantino's KILL BILL epics.