34 user 7 critic

Ode to Billy Joe (1976)

PG | | Drama | 4 June 1976 (USA)
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)



Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Jeremy (1973)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Shy cellist boy meets upperclassman ballet dancing girl at school. They experience first-time love, then happenstance pulls them apart.

Director: Arthur Barron
Stars: Robby Benson, Glynnis O'Connor, Len Bari
One on One (1977)
Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Henry Steele is a basketball phenom at his small town high school, but when he matriculates to a big city university on a scholarship, soon realizes that he has few skills outside the sport... See full summary »

Director: Lamont Johnson
Stars: Robby Benson, Annette O'Toole, G.D. Spradlin
Ice Castles (1978)
Drama | Romance | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A young girl is on top of the world until a tragic accident dashes her hopes and dreams of becoming a world-class figure skater. Only with the help of those who love her can she prove to ... See full summary »

Director: Donald Wrye
Stars: Lynn-Holly Johnson, Robby Benson, Colleen Dewhurst
Running Brave (1983)
Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The story of Billy Mills, the American Indian that came from obscurity, to win the 10,000 meter long distance foot race in the Tokyo Olympics.

Director: Donald Shebib
Stars: Robby Benson, Pat Hingle, Claudia Cron
The Death of Richie (TV Movie 1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A sensitive but confused teenager feels pressure on him from all directions and turns to drugs, which causes problems for him in school and at home.

Director: Paul Wendkos
Stars: Ben Gazzara, Eileen Brennan, Robby Benson
Maude (1972–1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

This "All In The Family" spin-off centers around Edith's cousin, Maude Findlay. She's a liberal, independent woman living in Tuckahoe, NY with her fourth husband Walter, owner of Findlay's ... See full summary »

Stars: Bea Arthur, Bill Macy, Conrad Bain
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Vietnam veteran Ray Hicks gets conned into helping his buddy John Converse smuggle some heroin, only to wind up on the lam with John's wife when the deal goes sour.

Director: Karel Reisz
Stars: Nick Nolte, Tuesday Weld, Michael Moriarty
Walk Proud (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A young Chicano gang member in Los Angeles comes to realize that the gang life is not what he really wants but doesn't know how to get out.

Director: Robert L. Collins
Stars: Robby Benson, Sarah Holcomb, Henry Darrow
Die Laughing (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

A San Francisco cab driver finds himself in possession of a monkey that is carrying a formula for turning atomic waste into a plutonium bomb. He finds himself framed for a murder and chased all over town by people trying to get the formula.

Director: Jeff Werner
Stars: Robby Benson, Linda Grovenor, Charles Durning
Jory (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Jory is a fifteen-year-old boy who joins a horse-drive after his father is killed by a drunkard. The drive's leader and a likable cowhand take the boy under their wing, and find that ... See full summary »

Director: Jorge Fons
Stars: John Marley, B.J. Thomas, Robby Benson
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A famous fashion photographer develops a disturbing ability to see through the eyes of a killer.

Director: Irvin Kershner
Stars: Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Dourif
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A has-been rock star falls in love with a young, up-and-coming songstress.

Director: Frank Pierson
Stars: Barbra Streisand, Kris Kristofferson, Gary Busey


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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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




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?


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 »


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 »


Dewey Barksdale: You going somewhere?
Bobbie Lee Hartley: I'm gonna catch the 6:40 a.m. bus in town.
Dewey Barksdale: So, you decided to leave?
Bobbie Lee Hartley: Appears so.
Dewey Barksdale: To have your baby?
Bobbie Lee Hartley: More or less.
Dewey Barksdale: There's no baby in you, Bobbie Lee.
Bobbie Lee Hartley: Well, that makes you the only person around here that don't think that.
Dewey Barksdale: I know. I heard that talk. That Billy Joe got you pregnant and he jumped off this here bridge out of shame. What I can't understand is why you wanna leave. Seems to be that it'd be easier for you to stay here, you know... and just face up to the world and ...
See more »


Remade as Ode (1999) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

"Nothing Ever Comes To No Good Up On Choctaw Ridge"
20 January 2000 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Yes, it's the film of That Song. No movie can ever hope to to justice to the enigmatic, doom-laden 1967 Bobbie Gentry hit, or come close to capturing the stifling Southern atmosphere that the song evokes so well, but as a film in its own right, this prettily-photographed tale is not at all bad. The locations are all genuine Mississippi, and cinematographer Michel Hugo has done an excellent job of evoking the exuberance of high summer.

And talking of the 1960's, remember Jethro Bodine and his sixth-grade education? Well the actor who created Jethro (and is also the son of the heavyweight boxing champion), Max Baer Jr., produced and directed this quirky little offering.

It is Mississippi in 1953, and the pretty adolescent girl Bobby Lee is having fantasies about boys. Billy Joe McAlister begins to court her, but as their mutual affection blossoms, darker currents are swirling beneath the Tallahatchee Bridge ...

A careful, almost literal rendering of the song, the film is a commendable effort which gets stronger and more assured as it goes along. If it is somewhat heavy with Deep South cliche (plenty of "ah dew declayer" and "raaaht neighbourly"), it really couldn't have been otherwise. The song itself is overloaded with similar stuff. I personally did not like Bobby Lee's poem, which struck me as to syrupy and too slow.

Bobby Benson is adequate as the haunted Billy Joe, but the film's real success is the performance of Glynnis O'Connor as Bobby Lee. She handles the range of emotions with aplomb, and virtually demands that the viewer identify with her. The final scene on the bridge confirms that Bobby Lee has grown as a person and has emerged from the tragedy stronger than the adults around her.

Bobby Lee's huffy soliloquy on the country road is very good, with its subtle edge of self-deprecating humour, and the long courting-scene which follows it is nicely-judged. The rueful interregnum after Billy Joe's disappearance is beautifully done, dominated by the delightful Michel Legrand piano score. The rag doll floating in the water is a striking symbol, both of Billy Joe and of the abandonment of childhood.

Verdict - If a film version of the Bobbie Gentry song is going to be done, this is probably the best way to do it.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
When/why/how was he with another man? libertino85
Sorry for my ignorance, but matanil
The whole homosexuality issue bigtwang
It was a baby they threw and here is why... darkmoonlady2002
Ambiguity in Billy Joe ode by Bobbie Gentry bettiem
Okay, a little help please... welwutevrnvrmind
Discuss Ode to Billy Joe (1976) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: