Retro Film Report #16: Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976)

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Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw tries to be Bonnie & Clyde or Badlands, but ends up being much more like the millions of hick flicks and trucker movies that were churned out in the seventies.  What separates this movie from the likes of Truck Stop Women and Breaker! Breaker! is the lovely Lynda Carter and the thoroughly intriguing lead actor Marjoe Gortner.  Plus, the movie delivers the goods: plenty of action and T&A.

At the outset, we are introduced to Lyle whom we immediately discover is crazy as a shithouse rat.  He likes to act out Old West showdowns and play chicken with the police.  You know it's going to be a good movie when the title is covered in the dust of a muscle car he just stole.

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Many of you will remember the actor who plays Lyle (a spitting image for Mathew McConaughey), Marjoe Gortner.  He began as a Pentecostal minister at the age of four (!) and gained outright notoriety in the seventies from the Oscar winning documentary Marjoe, a tell all film about life as a revivalist preacher on the road.

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Soon, Lyle meets up with Bobbie Jo (Lynda Carter), a poor waitress who still lives with her boozing mean-ass mother.  They instantly realize they are meant for each other; she idolizes Linda Ronstadt and he loves Billy the Kid, and they both love fast cars and country music.  It's a match made in honky tonk heaven.

Miles from civilization deep in the desert, Bobbie Jo feels the need to burst into song; thus, allowing the audience to get a listen to Lynda Carter's singing voice, which actually isn't half bad.

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And, of course, it doesn't take long before the pair are making sweet, sweet love amongst the sagebrush.  Not surprisingly, this is how this movie is best remembered - as the only film to feature Wonder Woman in her birthday suit.  Hey, it was Lynda's first movie role, waddya expect?

I must admit, however, the sex scene was a bit more intense than I'd bargained for.

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What almost makes these love scenes unbearable is this shitty country song "Those City Lights" by Bobby Bare that literally plays four times almost in its entirety each time.  Do yourself a favor and hit "mute" whenever you see these two lovebirds get intimate.

Next we're treated to a pinball tournament between Lyle and an anonymous hick.  The scene lasts a while, and my mind wandered.  Let's just say pinball tournaments aren't exactly what you'd call "movie magic".

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But all is forgiven in the next scene.  You may have to read this next sentence twice.  Bobbie Joe and her redneck friend, Essie, convince Lyle into having a threesome..... I'll pause so you can have time to digest that.

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The trio heads out to the New Mexico desert and wades butt naked into a desert swimming hole. Here, they are given "sacred mushrooms" by an old Native American shaman they call "grandfather".

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BTW, Essie is played by Belinda Balaski.  She was in some well known After School Specials and even received an Emmy for one. After this movie, she starred again with Marjoe in Food of the Gods. Balaski had parts in nearly every Joe Dante film ever made.

A picture is worth a thousand words, isn't it? From left to right: the mom from Gremlins naked, a nude medicine man, a stark naked former Evangelist preacher, and a nude Wonder Woman.  Does it get any better than this?

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Lyle's checkered past of run-ins with the law starts to catch up with him in the little town.  So, Essie, Lyle and Billie Jo hit the road to meet up with Bobbie Jo's stripper sister, Pearl (played by Merrie Lynn Ross, producer of Class of 1984).

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Unfortunately, her boyfriend "Slick" is a scumbag and gets Lyle entangled in a robbery gone awry.  Lyle kills a police officer in the scuffle, and now they're really in some deep shit.  My favorite line comes next back at Pearl's place:

Essie: Lyle, why don't we just give up now, before we go too far?
Slick: Your idea sucks.

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What follows next is the prerequisite car chase.  Back then, movies like this had to have one in order to satiate the rabid thirst seventies audiences had for car chases.  Hick flicks simply had have the following: purty ladies, country music, gun play, gratuitous nudity, car chases, and asshole cops.  It was just understood.

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Essie gets the bright idea to call the police and snitch on the gang.  Why, you ask? (1) She believes the law will go easier on them if they turn themselves in without a fight, and (2) she's a complete idiot.

The cops arrive and basically blow the gang's trailer up Waco style.

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Essie gets blown away in the crossfire and Lyle, Slick, Pearl and Bobbie Jo are now officially outlaws on the run.  They rob a small town store, and, in an incredibly unexpected scene, Bobbie Jo starts mowing people down with an assault rifle.  You actually see the blood, the death, the carnage.... not what I would have expected in a fairly lightweight film of this nature.

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Indeed, the girls start getting into it.  They smile as they waste innocent people, and giggle at their names in the paper. Have they turned "bad"? Or have they been manipulated by their men? Why do they feel no remorse?..... Damn it, who cares - this is a hick flick not a Camus novel! I want more guns, cars, and T&A!

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In the final scenes, the four outlaws are holed up in a seedy motel (check out the Deep Throat sign out front!). Outside wait dozens of police cars led by a Sheriff Lobo clone. They're finally cornered. Nothing left to do but go down in a blaze of glory (insert Skynyrd song here).

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As with all movies like this, the outlaws eventually get what's coming to them. All of them are killed, except Bobbie Jo who is carted off in handcuffs as the credits roll - which I actually don't like.  For once I'd like to see them take a page from the Steve Miller Band playbook...
Bobbie Sue, whoa, she slipped away
Billy Joe caught up to her the very next day
They got the money, hey
You know they got away
They headed down south and they're still running today...

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  1. How the hell did I miss this gem with all these icons? It's like "Snow Beast" for the 70s stars of the times head count.

  2. After reading your excellent review, I'm afraid the film itself would be let down!

  3. Whoohoo - this flick is on the Netflix instant queue! I know what I'm watching today!

  4. Marjoe Gortner. I remember him. He was a flaming star celebrity for awhile. He was also in Earthquake. According to Wikipedia he's been running celebrity sports golf tournaments recently before retiring in Jan. 2010.

  5. thanks, number2. just added it to my queue.

    Lynda Carter - what a goddess! She's the whole reason that brunettes with blue eyes turn me into goo.

  6. This film is the stuff of legend because of the nude scenes with Lynda Carter, but your stellar review reveals that there is so much more! I have sadly never seen it but will seek it out as soon as possible.

  7. To me, Marjoe Gortner is, "The guy from that wild giant rat movie, 'Food of the Gods.'" Maybe I need to check out more of his oeuvre.

  8. I recall Gortner best on the early 80s SPEAK UP AMERICA program, in the wake of REAL PEOPLE and the like.

    Anyone else recall his SUA co-star Jayne Kennedy having an on-air flare-up over an audience member challenging her religious views?

    Al Bigley

  9. Nice post. I love this cheesy little flick. Lynda Carter looks great.

  10. I love this movie!!! It's fairly high on my list of fave 70's movie.The scene where Billie Jo is saying to Lyle "I showed them,didn't I?" is actually in "Class of 84".I loved that movie too!

  11. Amazing, amazing film and a wonderful review. Lynda Carter is a spectacle to behold in this movie. Reading this gave me a powerful urge to see it again.

    Personally my all time favorite thing Marjoe Gortner ever did was his very hyper performance as Akton the Android in "Star Crash", from 1979, also staring Caroline Munro and Joe Spinell. And if I may respectfully offer one factual correction to your review - Belinda Belaski did not play the mom in Gremlins. She only made a brief cameo in that flick as a random customer at the bank where Zach Gallager worked. She is best remembered as Dee Wallace's cute female friend in "The Howling", which was also directed by Joe Dante.

  12. Very good review of a film that should have achieve "cult" status, but never did.

    How about "Buster and Billie" next?
    (Jan-Michael Vincent 1974)

  13. Have you ever seen Pray for the Wildcats? Another Gortner gem - he plays an advertising art director, who along with account guys William Shatner and Robert Reed, is terrorized by client Andy Griffith during a bike ride through Baja - curiously the same thing Enron's Jeff Skilling and Peter Fastow liked to get up to...
    Sadly still only on VHS as far as I know. Shatner's wife is played by Angie Dickinson, and there's a full line of upscale '73 Chrysler Corp. products on display.

  14. Our local non-network affiliated channel would show uncut movies late at night back in the '80's and I caught this one on VHS. In the scene with the medicine man where "Lyle" is telling a story about his past life as a Native American (if I recall correctly), when he jumps as if hit by a bullet, Linda Carter's left breast pops out. Let's just say that section of video tape wore out quickly...

  15. Gortner is terrific in The Marcus-Nelson Murders, which was the pilot film for the Kojak TV show.

  16. Great review..this is going to be on blu ray in December,I believe...

  17. I had a crush on Lynda Carter in high school. Wonder Woman! What a woman! Quite a few moons ago I heard about this movie and purchased it for VHS. For me it was a typical low budget 70's movie. Neither great nor horrible. The only reason I got it was to see as much of Lynda Carter as I could. To this day I think she is one of the most naturally beautiful women I've ever seen.