Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  16 April 1977 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.5/10 from 461 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 20 critic

After a senator suddenly dies after completing (and sealing) an investigation into the nuclear power industry, the remaining senator and the state governor must decide on a person who will ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sen. Joseph Paine
Teresa Kelly ...
Carol (as Teresa Laughlin)
Gov. Hubert Hopper
Michael Irving ...
J. Diana Lewis
Peter Donat ...
Ralph Butler
Kent Smith ...
Senator Joe Foley
Kathy Cronkite
Dennis O'Flaherty
Julie Webb
Carla Borelli
Sara Lane ...
(as Russell Lane)


After a senator suddenly dies after completing (and sealing) an investigation into the nuclear power industry, the remaining senator and the state governor must decide on a person who will play along with their shady deals and not cause any problems. They decide on Billy Jack, currently sitting in prison after being sent to jail at the end of his previous film, as they don't expect him to be capable of much, and they think he will attract young voters to the party. Billy is pardoned, released and nominated, after which he begins his duties. He soon notices that things aren't right, and starts trying to find out just what is going on. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The most dangerous Billy Jack of all!


Drama | Thriller


Not Rated


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Release Date:

16 April 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Billy Jack, i astrapi tou karate  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Tom Laughlin would later blame the movie's limited release due to a gigantic government lead conspiracy to suppress the movie. Actually, Laughlin at the time was fighting several lawsuits filed against him that prevented him from giving the movie as big a release as his previous movies. Laughlin then tried to get other movie distributors to release the movie. Samuel Z. Arkoff, head of American-International Pictures, recalled years later his going to Laughlin's home to watch a screening of the movie. Arkoff recalled, "Tom had gained about forty pounds since the earlier pictures... The new film just didn't recapture the charming and disarming character Tom had played in Billy Jack." Feeling that the movie was not commercial, Arkoff passed on the chance to distribute the movie, and the other distributors Laughlin screened the movie for also decided not to pick up the distribution rights for the same reason. See more »


Jean Roberts: You did it... no matter what anybody says about you now, you did it. And you didn't have to even once take off your boots!
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Remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) See more »


One Tin Soldier
Written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter
Performed by Teresa Kelly (as Theresa Laughlin)
See more »

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User Reviews

The Billy Jack Franchise Pursues the Wrong Idea
6 September 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I remember, as a kid, running into a bit of advance promotion on "Billy Jack Goes to Washington" in one of my teen magazines and readying myself for its release. It never came to my town, though it did surface elsewhere and quickly died; for myself, I would have to wait something like 23 years to see it, and then on a gray market VHS video version which did contain the complete film. It is an almost fully literal remake of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" made in full cooperation with Frank Capra, with Laughlin in his Billy Jack character taking the place of James Stewart. The budget on this project was miserly compared to what was needed, and it consists mainly of long and medium distance master shots in long takes; it isn't visually very interesting and cannot help but be boring. The excellent cast plays the property professionally, but invariably the piece comes off like a sub-TV Movie of the Week affair, and way too long. I haven't seen the re-edited version for DVD, but I would think that reducing the film's length would reduce comprehension of the story as well. Nevertheless, it is to be preferred over the bathetic and ridiculous "The Trial of Billy Jack," which can be seen as reflecting the screeching halt of the 60s counterculture; "Billy Jack Goes to Washington" may likewise reflect their attempt as reintegration into the system, but that's a bit of a stretch. The 70s were not the 30s; with the Watergate matter, Americans -- for the first time -- tasted widespread contempt of the full U.S. government including the executive branch. The Laughlins failed to take advantage of that, retelling the 1930s tale as it was, with little embellishment or updating. The Billy Jack character was a significant cultural component to the era in which he thrived; it's a shame that, past a certain point, the Laughlins were unable to find the right venue for Billy Jack to continue in, having lost sight of his pioneering martial arts appeal and his roots in the Western. If they needed to remake a classic, it should have been something like "The Tin Star."

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