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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 »


(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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


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

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User Reviews

That's What I Love/Hate About the South
10 January 2003 | by (Nashville) – See all my reviews

If this film had been directed by Truffaut or Bergman it would have swept Cannes. The fact that many viewers find it almost impossible to understand is testimony to the film's authenticity. As a life-long Southerner I feel compelled to state that anyone from the South over the age of 35 either knows or is one of these characters. The time period represented is one which lives in the memories of those alive today. Mississippi is particularly well drawn. I lived in Mississippi for four years and this film captures that distinct Mississippi flavor of charm,vindictiveness,religious observance,and sin. The bridge scene is what Southern pride and "redneck" are all about. Daddy just WON'T back up. One of the main themes of Southern art is the fact that many of the characters are so far from introspection and so close to instinctive, impulsive, animalistic behavior. When someone is "different" tragedy and/or myth tends to happen. Tennessee Williams mined that vein. Like the characters in this film, his people often dimly understood that they needed to either leave home or accept self-revelation in the confines of their environment. Most couldn't do either. The result is usually some sort of denial,death, or sacrifice. Great films/novels/short stories about the South have a sense of yearning and fatalism which I find very honest and moving. If you are into Russian literature, you are probably into Southern literature too! My thanks to Max for this beautiful film.

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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
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