Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bobbie Jo And The Outlaw (1976) Is Finally On DVD And Here Is My Review

There's something admirable about a film like Mark L. Lester's Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976). Is it the almost complete disregard for a sense of logical continuity to the proceedings? Or the way the makers of this pic decided to simply give the audience what it wanted without letting logic or common sense or decent acting get in the way?

I don't know but I do know that seeing this at the drive-in when it was first released was one of the seminal film-going moments of my life. The flick delivered and it was an unapologetic fun time at the movies.

I guess I owe my biological father another big "thank you" since I got to go back to 4th grade the following Monday morning after seeing this at the drive-in on a Saturday night and tell the boys in my class:

"I saw Wonder Woman's boobies!"

See, Lynda Carter was currently starring in TV's "Wonder Woman" when Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976) was released. And her two topless scenes in the first 30 minutes of the film are the stuff of legend.

(I probably wasn't the only guy going back to school or work that Monday morning saying that!)

Okay, the film, from the director of Claudia Jennings' Truck Stop Women (1974) and the equally absurd Roller Boogie (1979) with Linda Blair, is a typical outlaws-on-the-run/car chase/hillbilly hero adventure from American International Pictures so there's not much sense in recounting the plot beyond the basics.

Bored country girl Bobbie Jo (Lynda Carter) hooks up with outlaw Lyle (Marjoe Gortner).

Okay, let's talk about Gortner for a moment. Oddly, this guy was sort of a star in the 1970s, at least on the drive-in circuit. After this, I saw him -- at the drive-in, of course -- in The Food of the Gods (1976) and he's a decidedly odd presence when viewed from the perspective of the 21st century.

Clearly too old to be a heartthrob, but reasonably in shape, and charismatic in a strange sort of way, the guy is just not your typical leading man.

So the sight of the guy driving off with the turbo hot 24-year-old Lynda Carter in a muscle car is a strange one. As the buxom Carter struts through her Texas town, you wonder why she is so captivated by the guy with the blown-out Mike Brady dyed perm?

After parking outside Bobbie Jo's house, the gal takes off with the guy in the Mustang, the nagging of her Bible-thumbing mother echoing as the door slams.

I was struck how all that romanticizing Springsteen does of similar setups -- "Thunder Road", for instance -- is shown to be simple nonsense when you actually have those dumb dreams of "cars and girls", to paraphrase Prefab Sprout, visualized.

This is the dearth of ambition in small town America; Bobbie Jo's dreams of becoming a country singer are laughable but also the only almost normal goals anyone has in this film. A viewer could be forgiven for not caring if any character here makes it out alive.

Not so much anti-heroes, the characters here are either stupid hippies (Belinda Balaski as Bobbie Jo's bespectacled buddy), hicks (Jesse Vint), stupid strippers, or shameless sheriffs.

The funniest scene in the film is easily when Lyle wins some pinball stand-off in a bar against some local toughs only to be accosted by the gang outside. When he's accused of cheating -- which he was, actually -- he somehow manages to subdue a guy twice his size and hold off another 5 guys and make his getaway.

I guess the reality of seeing the older Marjoe Gortner getting his ass kicked by a bunch of shit-kickers would have ended the movie a third of the way through.

Of course, how to celebrate such a victory? Psychedelic mushrooms with an old Indian guy in a stream!

Of course, after having sex out in the desert, the couple practices shooting -- foreshadowing!?!

The couple hits the road, the crime spree continues, they hook up with Bobbie Jo's stripper sister and her hick boyfriend, people die accidentally, the two leads become folk heroes, and cars crash and stuff blows up.

What more could one want in an American International Picture?

I sound like I'm criticizing the film but, really, Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976) is a lot of fun. Lynda Carter is beautiful but a horrible actress here and the lines she's given don't help; her final scene is cringe-worthy and so over-the-top that I can't watch it without laughing.

88-minutes of sex, violence, hillbillies, car wrecks, and hijinks!

Order Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976) on made-to-order DVD from Screen Archives here.

(It's worth noting that the DVD says widescreen but it seemed cropped on my widescreen TV. Either that, or the film-makers didn't frame things properly or the aspect ratio is a bit off.)