Vernon, Florida (1981)
Directed by Errol Morris
Produced by Errol Morris, David R. Loxton
Starring Albert Bitterling, Roscoe Collins, George Harris, Joe Payne, Howard Pettis, Claude Register, Snake Reynolds, Henry Shipes
During the ’50s and ’60s, residents of the tiny northern Floridian city (pop. approx. 800) submitted a superfluity of insurance claims professing accidental dismemberments, which amounted to two-thirds of all such requests filed nationally. This deviant distinction prompted speculation that many applicants amputated their own limbs for quick cash, and coinage of a grisly byname. Nub City was also to be the title of a documentary wherein Morris probed these bruits, but local oppugnancy deterred his enquiry. Instead, this mild, genial presentation of Vernon’s eccentric provincials is couched in the town’s ambience and anecdotes, of hunting turkeys, farming worms, a dead mule, one mysterious gunshot, encroaching sands, a casual suicide, lexical research informing a quirky sermon. Don’t expect the uncoordinated humor or poignance of Gates of Heaven; produced between two of Morris’s early classics, his second feature is sometimes discursively dull, but as straight as its subjects.

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