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Ode to Billy Joe (1976)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  4 June 1976 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 989 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 5 critic

Billy Joe confesses his love to the lovely Bobbi Lee only to cover his growing fear that he may, in fact, be homosexual. One night, at a barn dance, he gets a little drunk and rather than ... See full summary »


(as Max Baer)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joan Hotchkis ...
Anna 'Mama' Hartley
Sandy McPeak ...
Glenn 'Papa' Hartley
Dewey Barksdale
Terence Goodman ...
James Hartley
Becky Bowen ...
Becky Thompson
Simpson Hemphill ...
Brother Taylor
Ed Shelnut ...
Coleman Stroud
Eddie Talr ...
Tom Hargitay
William Hallberg ...
Dan McAllister
Frannye Capelle ...
Belinda Wiggs
Rebecca Jernigan ...
Mrs. Thompson
Ann Martin ...
Mrs. Hunicutt
Will Long ...
Trooper Bosh


Billy Joe confesses his love to the lovely Bobbi Lee only to cover his growing fear that he may, in fact, be homosexual. One night, at a barn dance, he gets a little drunk and rather than going with the hired whores, gives into his desires and sexual relations with an unnamed man. The guilt causes him to run away, hide in the woods and eventually confess everything to Bobbi Lee who doesn't want to believe him only because she was enjoying the forbidden nature of their love. In the end, he cannot accept his sexuality nor can he hide behind Bobbi Lee and that's why he throws himself off the Tallahachee bridge. Written by John Vogel <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What the song didn't tell you, the movie will.




PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 June 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Ponte do Desejo  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Directed by Max Baer Jr., who portrayed "Jethro Bodine" in the long running comedy The Beverly Hillbillies (1962). See more »


As Papa Hartley and the three boys are battling it out in their trucks on the bridge the camera moves from inside the Hartley truck looking out to outside looking in. As they do this you see from the inside that the windshield in front of the driver is badly cracked but as they move to the outside angle it is not cracked at all. See more »


Billy Joe McAllister: HEY! I've been holding up this here bridge for over an hour so it wouldn't fall on you.
Bobbie Lee Hartley: Right Neiborhly of Mr.McAllister.
See more »


Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #22.32 (2005) See more »


Ode to Billie Joe
Written and Performed by Bobbie Gentry
See more »

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User Reviews

loved it
23 November 2004 | by (milw wi) – See all my reviews

I remember seeing 'Ode to Billy Joe' when I was about twelve, and just starting to deal with the fact that I was gay. Growing up in rural Wisconsin I could relate very well to the negative attitudes towards gays, and find it very believable that a young gay person in that situation would consider killing themself. I also find it very believable that a young gay person would date a person of the opposite sex, just think about how many gay people do get married. Even though Billy Joe is a tragic figure I found the movie to be comforting, I think I took comfort in the fact that at least someone was talking about homosexuality, being Catholic my family never spoke about sex much less homosexuality and I think that is the way it was in most families in the seventies. Over the years I have thought of that movie often and I think at times it helped me keep my sanity, I would love to see it again!

12 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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When/why/how was he with another man? libertino85
The whole homosexuality issue bigtwang
Ambiguity in Billy Joe ode by Bobbie Gentry bettiem
It was a baby they threw and here is why... darkmoonlady2002
Okay, a little help please... welwutevrnvrmind
coming to dvd on 2/10/09 jemglamgirl
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