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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 »

Director:

(as Max Baer)

Writers:

(song),
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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A love story that's joyous, funny, and so touching you'll never forget it. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 June 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Ponte do Desejo  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Max Baer Jr. played Jethro Bodine in The Beverly Hillbillies (1962). See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[first lines]
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 neighborly of you, Mr. McAllister.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Ode to Billie Joe
Written and Performed by Bobbie Gentry
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User Reviews

 
Interesting for its ambiguities
22 June 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It's interesting that most reviewers of this film seem to want to resolve one way or another the question of whether Billy Joe was gay or not. Music buffs prize the song for its ambiguities, but IMDb reviewers want the film to explain everything. Actually the film is all the better for leaving things unresolved. The passionate way that Billy Joe talks to and kisses his girlfriend Bobbie Lee might be interpreted as a genuine manifestation of desire, or it might be his desperate attempt to convince himself that he's heterosexual. Similarly, it's not clear whether Billy Joe was raped by the older man, or whether he slept with him willingly. My own interpretation is that Billy Joe is probably unsure of his own sexuality. After he confesses that he has slept with a man, Bobbie Lee tries to comfort him by saying, "I know you're not a man like that - I couldn't be wrong about you"; Billy Joe responds, "Well, you are wrong." It's not really relevant whether the character is gay or not; the important thing is that, at this stage, one sexual encounter with a man has led him to believe that he must be gay. As for whether he slept with the guy willingly, he says, "I knew what was happening". Also, it's unlikely that Bobbie Lee would let the other man go free, as she does in the final scene on the bridge, if she thought he had raped and caused the death of her boyfriend. If she thinks that Billy Joe went with him willingly, this scene makes more sense. But again, this doesn't necessary mean that he was gay. It could be that the conservative attitudes of 1950s Mississippi made it difficult for young people to feel comfortable with any sexuality at all - Billy Joe wants to have sex with his girlfriend, but that's taboo, and she is reluctant to go all the way, so he jumps at the first chance he sees for real sex, even if that means sleeping with a man. In either case, the film works as a satire on the small-minded attitudes of rural America, and the assumption, fuelled by Christianity, that sex is dirty and sinful. The tragedy of the film is that Billy Joe's society can't accept the idea that sex, whether straight or gay, is a natural urge. Since Billy Joe has internalised these attitudes, they destroy him.


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