IMDb > Ode to Billy Joe (1976)
Ode to Billy Joe
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Ode to Billy Joe (1976) More at IMDbPro »

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Release Date:
4 June 1976 (USA) See more »
A love story that's joyous, funny, and so touching you'll never forget it. See more »
At last, we're given the answers to the questions raised by the haunting 1967 Bobbie Gentry song of the same title... See more » | Full synopsis »
User Reviews:
Interesting for its ambiguities See more (35 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Robby Benson ... Billy Joe McAllister

Glynnis O'Connor ... Bobbie Lee Hartley
Joan Hotchkis ... Anna 'Mama' Hartley

Sandy McPeak ... Glenn 'Papa' Hartley

James Best ... 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
John Roper ... Trooper Ned
Pat Purcell ... Alabama Boy #1
Jim Westerfield ... Alabama Boy #2
Jack Capelle ... Alabama Driver
Al Scott ... Master of Ceremonies
Peggy Kubena ... Stripper/Prositute
Paul Hughes Sr. ... Band Leader
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Michael D. Carlin ... Hunicutt Kid (uncredited)
Andy Sims ... Dance Hall Guest (uncredited)

Directed by
Max Baer Jr.  (as Max Baer)
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Bobbie Gentry  song by
Herman Raucher 

Produced by
Max Baer Jr. .... producer (as Max Baer)
Roger Camras .... producer
Mark Sussman .... associate producer
Original Music by
Michel Legrand 
Cinematography by
Michel Hugo (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Frank Morriss  (as Frank E. Morriss)
Casting by
Phil Benjamin 
Production Design by
Philip M. Jefferies (uncredited)
Art Direction by
Philip M. Jefferies  (as Philip Jefferies)
Set Decoration by
Harry Gordon 
Makeup Department
Delree F. Todd .... hair stylist (as Delree Todd)
Marvin G. Westmore .... makeup artist (as Marvin Westmore)
Production Management
Marty Hornstein .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Anthony Brand .... assistant director
Art Department
Chuck Clark .... scenic artist
Richard L. Cowitt .... assistant property master (as Richard Cowitt)
Allan Gordon .... property master
Sound Department
Cliff Bell Jr. .... dialogue editor
C. Darin Knight .... production sound mixer (as Darin Knight)
Cal Marks .... boom operator
Richard Portman .... dubbing mixer
Special Effects by
Gene Grigg .... special effects
Beau Gibson .... stunt coordinator
Camera and Electrical Department
Ken John Borland .... key grip (as Ken Borland)
Larry Gilhooly .... gaffer
Robert C. Jessup .... director of photography: second unit (as Robert Jessup)
Lynn Lockwood .... director of photography: second unit
Marshall Marker .... still photographer
Herb Pearl .... operative cameraman
Giles Thevenaz .... assistant camera
Edward Borland .... best boy (uncredited)
Gary R. Wostak .... best boy (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
James M. George .... wardrobe
Location Management
Ron Windred .... location manager
Patty Shaw .... location production secretary (uncredited)
Music Department
Marshall Leib .... music coordinator
John Mick .... music editor
Transportation Department
Buster Kohloff .... transportation (as Buster Kohlhoff)
Dan Riportella .... transportation (as Danny Riportella)
Wayne Stone .... transportation
Greg Van Dyke .... transportation (as Greg VanDyke)
Fritz Braden .... driver: honeywagon (uncredited)
Other crew
Terry L. Behrens .... assistant to associate producer
Greg Blackwell .... assistant to associate producer (as Gregory S. Blackwell)
Richard Boguske .... assistant to associate producer
Carolyn Judd .... assistant to producer
H. Bud Otto .... script supervisor
Homer Sharavsky .... craft service
Huey Redwine .... stand-in (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
106 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
UK:AA (theatrical rating) | UK:15 (video rating) | USA:PG

Did You Know?

Director Max Baer Jr. played Jethro Bodine in "The Beverly Hillbillies" (1962).See more »
Factual errors: When Bobbie Lee runs into Barksdale on the bridge at the end of the movie, it's supposed to be around 6:00am, but the sun is a full 45 degrees in the sky already.See more »
[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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in "Jeopardy!: Episode #22.32" (2005)See more »
Ode to Billie JoeSee more »


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11 out of 18 people found the following review useful.
Interesting for its ambiguities, 22 June 2005
Author: APJ from United Kingdom

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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