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Ode to Billy Joe (1976)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  4 June 1976 (USA)
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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
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Did You Know?


This movie date of release, Friday, June 4th, 1976, was one month before the United States' bi-centennial date of (Thursday), July 4th, 1776, Sunday, July 4th, 1976. See more »


At the dance, one of the band is playing an Ovation guitar. The movie is set in 1960, but the company Ovation Guitars was not founded until 1966. 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 »


Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Music by Michel Legrand
See more »

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User Reviews

A sweet and tragic rural romance.
9 March 2003 | by (BROOMALL, PA.) – See all my reviews

ODE TO BILLY JOE is a humerous and touching tale of events leading up to why "Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge", as related in the Bobbie Gentry hit. Director Max Baer Jr. (who would have thought "Jethro" had this kind of talent?) skillfully re-creates an atmosphere of 1950's rural Mississippi. and breathes life into characters only hinted at in the song. Scripted by Herman Raucher, with the same feeling of nostalgia he gave SUMMER OF '42, and beautifully scored by Michel Legrand, ODE TO BILLY JOE is a sweet and touching story of the awkwardness of teenage love, and the consequences of an unfortunate event, which, in today's politically correct times, would probably be scorned or laughed at. Glynnis O'Connor and Robby Benson, are re-teamed after their excellent debut in JEREMY. Another treasured film on VHS, that I hope will someday come out on DVD.

20 of 22 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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