In 1950s Mississippi, teenager Bobbie Lee Hartley navigates her blossoming hormones as she is courted by Billy Joe McAllister, who is headed for tragedy.


Max Baer Jr. (as Max Baer)


Bobbie Gentry (based on the song written by), Herman Raucher (screen story by) | 1 more credit »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Robby Benson ... Billy Joe McAllister
Glynnis O'Connor ... Bobbie Lee Hartley
Joan Hotchkis Joan Hotchkis ... Anna 'Mama' Hartley
Sandy McPeak ... Glenn 'Papa' Hartley
James Best ... Dewey Barksdale
Terence Goodman ... James Hartley
Becky Bowen Becky Bowen ... Becky Thompson
Simpson Hemphill Simpson Hemphill ... Brother Taylor
Ed Shelnut Ed Shelnut ... Coleman Stroud
Eddie Talr Eddie Talr ... Tom Hargitay
William Hallberg William Hallberg ... Dan McAllister
Frannye Capelle Frannye Capelle ... Belinda Wiggs
Rebecca Jernigan Rebecca Jernigan ... Mrs. Thompson
Ann Martin Ann Martin ... Mrs. Hunicutt
Will Long Will Long ... Trooper Bosh


At last, we're given the answers to the questions raised by the haunting 1967 Bobbie Gentry song of the same title. Eighteen- year-old Billy Joe McAllister is in love with Bobbie Lee, but her father refuses to allow her to receive gentlemen callers before she's sixteen. In the Mississippi Delta, in a time before the boondocks had seen television and indoor plumbing, a young man's fancy turns constantly to thoughts of love. Billy Joe is no different in this regard and his persistence is making it difficult for Bobbie Lee to maintain her virtue (the dog-earred issues of "Torrid Romance" don't help either). Perhaps an indictment of the artificial conventions of society, the film demonstrates the tragic consequences of a young couple's first awkward grapplings with love and sex. As Bobbie Lee says shortly after Billy Joe's lifeless body is dragged from the Tallahatchie River, "What do I know of love... I'm only a child." Yet, there seems little doubt that what she feels for the dead boy ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What the song didn't tell you, the movie will. See more »




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Released Friday, June 4th, 1976, one month before the United States' bicentennial, July 4th, 1976. See more »


When Billy Joe and Bobbie Lee are talking on the bridge and they see the pastor in his car watching them, Billy Joe turns the opposite direction to walk away across the bridge. When the pastor approaches in his car, he and Bobbie have a conversation about the dance that night that lasts a minute or two. When the pastor drives on and he stops to give Billy Joe a ride, it looks as though Billy Joe had only walked a few yards during the entire time Bobbie and the pastor were having their conversation. 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.
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Remade as Ode (1999) See more »


There'll Be Time
Lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Music by Michel Legrand
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User Reviews

Confused version
25 February 2004 | by paclarSee all my reviews

If this is truly supposed to be an adaptation of the Bobbie Gentry song, it makes utterly NO sense. I'm gay, so I'm usually sensitized toward picking gay references out of pop culture, but to make Billy Joe in the film struggle with his sexuality is fairly ridiculous.

If you read the lyrics to Bobbie Gentry's song, it seems pretty darn obvious that what the narrator and Billie Joe are throwing off the Tallahatchee Bridge is their out-of-wedlock baby.

Just Google search the lyrics, listen to the song, and see if that interpretation doesn't make much more sense than how the movie presents the story.

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Release Date:

4 June 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ode to Billy Joe See more »

Filming Locations:

Greenwood, Mississippi, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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