The Ballad of Little Jo (1993)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance, Western  |  20 August 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,136 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 16 critic

Based on a true story, this is the tale of Josephine Monaghan, a young woman of the mid-19th century who is thrown out of her parents' home after being seduced by the family's portrait ... See full summary »


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2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Josephine 'Jo' Monaghan
Frank Badger
Percy Corcoran
David Chung ...
Tinman Wong
Mary Addie
Streight Hollander
Ruth Badger
Henry Grey
Beatrice Grey
Jasper Hill
Olinda Turturro ...
Ruth Maleczech ...
Jeffrey Andrews ...
Mrs. Addie
Peadair S. Addie Sr. ...
Mr. Addie


Based on a true story, this is the tale of Josephine Monaghan, a young woman of the mid-19th century who is thrown out of her parents' home after being seduced by the family's portrait photographer and giving birth to an illegitimate child. Josephine quickly learns that young, female, pretty, and alone are a bad combination for life in the wild west. In her desperation to survive, Josephine disguises herself as "Jo", a young man, and struggles to make a life for herself in a dingy frontier mining town. Can "Little Jo" live and love without revealing his/her secret? Written by Martin Lewison <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In the Wild West, a woman had only two choices. She could be a wife or she could be a whore... Josephine Monaghan chose to be a man.


Drama | Romance | Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and some violence | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 August 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Balada do Pequeno Jo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$514,451 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Little Jo shoots his(her) first wolf, the wolf has a rope tied around his leg and it's being pulled on to make him lie down. See more »


Tinman Wong: Who is this society?
Little Jo Monaghan: Me. Can you imagine?
Tinman Wong: I like you much better as your are.
Little Jo Monaghan: Why?
Tinman Wong: This white girl would never do this to me.
See more »

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User Reviews

Haunting Performance By Amis
17 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I found this to be one of those "haunting" films that has stayed with me. Suzy Amis' performance has stuck with me since I first saw this movie in 1994.

As for the story, yes it's hard to believe that no one would notice a "man" who never had any facial hair, whose voice was fairly high and had such narrow shoulders but despite the unrealistic premise, it's a good story that keeps your attention all the way without the need for action (although there is some.)

Amis does transform her looks from a fairly pretty woman to someone that looks like a frail 17-year-old boy. David Chung, who plays her Asian friend (well, more than that) also is very good and Bo Hopkins also has a strong contribution as the neighbor.

But this movie belongs to Amis all the way and just the painful looks on her face alone are memorable enough for me. What a haunting, sad look! Thus, it is not a happy story, but it's powerful one and worth seeing. Worth hearing, too, with some nice guitar work for the soundtrack.

If you are looking for a western that has a different angle, this certainly qualifies.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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