(UPDATE 2/22/12: Bobbie Jo and The Outlaw is now available for instant viewing at Netflix; see the link at the end of this post.)
• Against a New Mexico landscape, we meet loner Lyle Wheeler (Marjoe Gortner) as he makes a fast buck winning a quick-draw contest.
• Later at a gas station, he steals a car and crashes it into a pursuing police vehicle, escaping in his hot ride while totaling the cop car.
• Lyle then pulls up at a drive-in diner and is served by Bobbie Jo (Lynda Carter). She lives with her widowed mom (Peggy Stewart), who gets on Bobbie Jo’s case about staying out late and “letting boys kiss her.”
• To feed her rebellion later that day, Bobbie Jo hops into Lyle’s stolen car as he sits in it, stalker-like, across the street from her house. Next thing we know, they’re walking arm in arm across a countryside, then sitting down as Bobbie Joe serenades Lyle – which leads to small talk and some sweet, sweet casual ‘70s lovemaking by the fire.
• After Lyle’s spotted driving the stolen car by a local cop, he and Bobbie Jo (along with Bobbie Jo’s friend Essie (Belinda Balaski)) go on the lam, seeking help from Bobbie Jo’s stripper sister Pearl (Merrie Lynn Ross) and her club’s cokehead owner, Slick (Jesse Vint).
• Help is the last thing they get from Slick, as he gets Lyle to try and help him steal a semi-truck, with Slick killing a security card in the process. Bobbie Jo, Lyle, Essie, Pearl, and Slick then wind up on the run as a group, pursued across the state by tobacky-chewin’, appropriately-named Sheriff Hicks (Gene Drew) – who vows to bring Lyle in, dead or alive.
• Bobbie Jo and The Outlaw was directed by Mark L. Lester. If you don’t know him, you probably know his work – many guilty-pleasure, B-movie exploitation flicks, as well as high-profile films like Firestarter and Commando.
• Bobbie Jo was Carter’s film debut, and at times it shows. Her Southern twang comes and goes, and when somebody close to her is killed, her emotional delivery is subdued, to be generous. (Funny flub: When she’s paying for food at a grocery mart, she’s actually handing over the money before saying, “How much do I owe you?”) Still, it was weirdly entertaining watching the future Wonder Woman spout off profanities that would make Wonder Girl blush.
• The film’s big claim to fame/infamy is Carter’s topless scenes. To paraphrase the slogan of a certain spaghetti sauce, “They’re in there!” Actually, “it’s in there” would be more accurate, for her nude scenes are all, strangely, only her left breast in side profile. (Balaski obliges both boobs in an extended scene where Essie, Bobbie Jo, and Lyle are tripping on mushrooms in a pond.)
• The film features quite the twangy ‘70s country soundtrack, featuring Bobby Bare’s grating “Those City Lights” four times during the film. (If I never hear that song again, it’ll be too soon.)
• Bobbie Jo does follow the on-the-run framework of Bonnie & Clyde and the imitators that came in the 9 years between that film and this one. But here, it was hard to engage myself with what was going on. I felt a bit detached, despite all the gunplay and T&A (well, mostly T). By the time the movie picked up steam in the last 25 minutes, it was simply too little too late.
Rating: 2 stars (out of 5).
Will your kids want to see it?Today's kids have probably never heard of this film, or even Carter’s late-‘70s stint as TV’s Wonder Woman. Still, keep children and young teens away from Bobbie Jo and The Outlaw: There’s boobs, drugs, and cussin’ a-plenty. Today’s high-school-age kids should be fine with what’s shown, but would probably wind up mocking the film anyway.
Will your FilmMother like it?Only if she’s a fan of ‘70s exploitation, southern style. It’s not a very good movie, but unfortunately not bad enough to make watching it a spectator sport.
Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw
* Director: Mark L. Lester
* Screenwriter: Vernon Zimmerman
* Stars: Marjoe Gortner, Lynda Carter, Belinda Balaski, Jesse Vint, Gene Drew, Merrie Lynn Ross
* MPAA Rating: R (nudity, adult situations and language, and violence)
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