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Why does everyone knock the Legend of Billie Jean so much? For me, it's
one of my favorite 80s teen movies. And it's a good exploration into
the concept of vigilante justice as a natural response to not only a
cumbersome justice system, but also a discriminatory one.
Helen Slater is teenager Billie Jean, a nice girl from "the trailers" of Corpus Christi, Texas. When Hubie Pyat (Barry Tubbs) and some other local pranksters trash her brother Binx's (Christian Slater) motor scooter, she demands compensation. But Hubie refuses to pay and his father uses the opportunity to offer that Billie Jean trade some sexual favors to him for the cash. In the midst of her flight from the pervert, there's scuffle, and Mr. Pyat is accidentally shot. So, Billie Jean, her brother, and two friends involved in the accident, suddenly finds themselves on the run from the police.
Rather than surrendering, they use their new teenage fugitive status to stage something of a protest ("fair is fair"), and Billie Jean becomes their hero and icon for teenage rebellion as well as feminism. They become the martyrs of teenagers while the adults dismiss the entire thing as a bunch of rambunctious teenagers gone out of control. So, there is political significance in the story of Billie Jean in looking at the criminal justice system (although some of the discrimination against Billie Jean such as denying her any sort of expedited compensation occurs as a result of the system not intervening at all). If Billie Jean was an adult, would she have been taken seriously? What if Billie Jean were a male? Would that change the situation. Indeed, this movie suggests that it would.
In a decade filled with themes of teen angst, this one offers one story of the possibility of teen (and female) empowerment in a way that Pump Up the Volume or other movies like that did. I always thought it was a pretty good 80s movie and one that, judging by the message boards, still caters to a loyal audience as many of those long-lasting 80s movies do. Plus, as far as important 80s movie characteristic go, it's got good actors (Helen Slater, Christian Slater, Peter Cyote, and Kieth Gordon), and a good soundtrack (featuring Pat Benetar's "Invincible" and the Divinyls).
The Legend of Billy Jean (1985) was one of your typical 80's movies.
It's hopelessly dated but back in the day it was a real hoot to watch
on T.V. The story is about two siblings that cross paths with some
older punks. Billy Jean is the name of the main character(Helen Slater,
looking good) and she tries to fight for what she believes is right
"Fair is fair!" He brother is played by the infamous Christian Slater
(sans Jack Nicholson accent). They some how come across a lecherous
sleaze ball and get into all kinds of shenanigans. It has to be seen to
be believed. You also get co-star appearances from Yeardly Smith (Lisa
Simpson) Keith Gordon, Dean Stockwell and mondo footage from Jeanne
D'Arc. You can't say you're a true fan of 80's flicks until you've seen
Recommend for nostalgia purposes.
Factoid: Carolyn Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre II) makes a quick appearance as a woman who spots Billy Jean.
I can't believe I've never watched this show before when I was younger. I
just saw it on cable. I won't say it has the best plot, story, characters or
anything, but there's just this mysterious element that draws us to Billie
Jean. All those kids in the film were incredible. My father was watching
with me he smiled when he saw that little boy who sent the tape to the
police. How cute!
This film does reflect some truths. Some adults simply think that fairness is not for kids. Children are not entitled to justice. But few do stand up against this false belief. That is why Billie Jean is a heroine.
To add, Helen Slater is just so beautiful.
I don't understand why this movie wasn't more better received. After the Supergirl fiasco, this movie should have made Helen Slater's career. She plays a small mid-western girl with a younger brother (Christian Slater- not her real brother) constantly being harassed for being poor. When the motor bike is trashed and vandalized, she goes to the future criminal's father for the repair fee, but the guy is worst than his son. He blames her for a crime that never happened and even profits from the media coverage of her pursuit. Peter Coyote is the police investigator who believes her and sticks by her side even when a rich kid (Keith Gordon) fakes his kidnapping to follow her and irk his father (Dean Stockwell). It's a great movie and great script excelled even more by the voice of Pat Benatar. Ten stars !
I saw this movie when I was a kid, and it instantly became one of my personal favorites. Helen Slater's performance is unforgettable about a young girl and her instant rebel/outlaw status. This is definitely a cult favorite, and appropriately so. For some undescribable reason, this film grabs at you in a way that most movies never do. You seem to care a lot for Billie Jean, and want her to get the justice she deserves. Every rebellious youth should see this film so they can see what happens on both sides of the law, and for a highly entertaining movie. Full of 80's music (especially the kick-ass Pat Benatar theme song), The Legend of Billie Jean is truly a remarkable film that was overlooked by too many people for its brilliance.
The British historian E. J. Hobsbawm developed the idea of the "social
bandit," the peasant youth who becomes an outlaw after his honorable
resistance to some outrage by the landlord ends with a landlord
henchman dead. He calls to others who share his anger at injustice to
follow him to the hills where they will lead the outlaw life, stealing
only from those whose wealth comes from oppressing the poor, respecting
the peasants and righting wrongs on their behalf, and seeking to
restore a former condition when the great and powerful behaved decently
and treated the poor equitably. (This equitable treatment is also close
to what E.P. Thompson called "the moral economy of the poor:" the
Honest Loaf, the Fair Day's Wage for a Fair Day's Work--a slogan of
early labor unions--etc.)
The social bandit *isn't* a revolutionary--he has no vision of a transformed society, because his horizons are too narrow. He wants the Good Old Days back. He doesn't have a social or political theory; he wants simple decency and justice. He isn't Joan of Arc, fighting to restore a legitimate King, he's much closer to Robin Hood, resisting the oppression of a King who's forfeited the loyalty of the people by not acting as a good King should.
Billie Jean is a social bandit. The events that launch her "career," the actions she performs, and above all her simple watchword "Fair is Fair" clearly put her in the category that includes the Brazilian Lampiao, the Sicilian Salvatore Giuliano, and others. Hardly surprising, since this teenage cult script was written by a formerly blacklisted old Lefty in his seventies, Walter Bernstein, who surely had read Hobsbawm and Thompson and found, I think, a very ingenious way to illustrate their ideas in a 1980's US setting.
Some days I just want to take it easy and remember the good old days
when I was a teenager and had no real problems. This film takes me back
20 years, when in the heat of the summer night we used to sneak out the
2nd story window to adventure and excitement.
The acting is believable, characters well cast and film nicely shot. Its a getaway for forty something women, with an awesome but not egotistical heroine, a solid loyal sibling and a sweet sincere romantic guy that we all dream of meeting someday.
The song "Invincible" from the soundtrack by Pat Bentar stirs up even more memories of a time when MTV was young and the short hair cut was a sign of rebellion and the contrary move for strong young women. Thank god I grew up in a time when I didn't have to tattoo my body or pierce my face to show I was tough or different or independent.
In Texas, the hot teenager Billie Jean Davy (Helen Slater) lives with
her brother Binx (Christian Slater) and her mother in a trailer. In a
hot day, she rides with Binx on his scooter to swim in a lake. However,
the bully Huble Pyatt (Barry Tubb) steals the scooter with his friends.
Billie Jean goes to the police but Detective Ringwald (Peter Coyote)
does not give much attention to her. When Binx tries to retrieve his
scooter, Huble trashes the scooter and beats Binx up. Billie Jean goes
with her brother Binx and her friend Ophelia (Martha Gehman) to the
store of Huble's father Pyatt (Richard Bradford) with the repair bill
and the old man lures Billie Jean and brings her to his office. Then he
harass and tries to rape her. Meanwhile Binx finds a gun in the cash
register and her accidentally shoots Pyatt. Billie Jean, Binx. Ophelia
and their teenage neighbor Putter (Yeardley Smith) flee from Ophelia's
car. They meet the teenager Lloyd (Keith Gordon), who is the estranged
son of the D.A. Muldaur (Dean Stockwell), he proposes to be their
"hostage" so that the runaway teenagers could get some money for their
journey. When Billie Jean watches Otto Preminger 's "Saint Joan" at
Lloyd's television, she cuts her hair short and makes a video with her
explanation and demands, becoming and icon worshiped by the teenagers.
Meanwhile Detective Ringwald finds the mess, he realizes that he should
have listened to Billie Jean and tries to fix the situation.
"The Legend of Billie Jean" is a super-cult movie from the 80's and maybe Helen Slater's best film in her career. The plot entwines action and drama and it is delightful to watch. In the 80's, many viewers believed that Helen Slater and Christian Slater were siblings since they have the same last name. The story of a wronged teenager that cuts her hair in Joan of Arc's style and becomes an idol of the youth has not aged and is still wonderful to watch. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "A Lenda de Billie Jean" ("The Legend of Billie Jean")
This is my favorite movie of all time.I love the story of independence and standing up for whats right,not taking no for an answer.I love the outlaw feeling that you get from this movie.It made me want to cut my hair.Helen Slater does an outstanding job portraying this role, and could Christian be any cuter? I realize I was born the year this movie came out but I love it regardless.I watch it every chance I get.Besides I'm stuck in the 80's anyway.I envy Billie Jean.She's so cool! One day I want to visit Corpus Christy. When I was younger I use to want to be Billie Jean. She was my idol.I understand she is a fictional character but shes just so dang cool.
Besides having an awesome soundtrack, the movie is probably the only movie
that has made me a cult follower for it.
Billy Jean is a woman who empowers herself through her innocence. The fact that she has such an unique attitude towards such a critical moment in her life is amazing.
I first saw this amazing movie about four years ago when it happened to be on TV. I sat and watched it, for lack of something better to do. I am glad I did. This movie has had such a dramatic effect on my personal life. No matter how goofy this sounds, I have come to realize that you have to make the best of a bad situation.
Definatly two thumbs way way up as well as however many stars I can give it. And whoever can figure out how I can meet Helen Slater gets a cookie- she is one of my all time heroes!
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