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"Ode to Billy Joe"

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Maybe I am totally "off-the-mark" on this 1976 film -

 

But "Ode to Billy Joe" seems to me to be the work of a gay man (that is, the director, Max Baer, Jr.) who was attracted to the film solely on the basis of its' anti-gay content.

 

That's right, it was 1976.

 

And the chicken hawk character (who is played by James Best) is allowed to walk Bobbie Lee to the bus stop so she and he can advance the fiction that Billy Joe was an undone heterosexual?

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What got thrown off that bridge???

It is a mystery, isn't it?

 

What about the doll that was picked up and then thrown back in the water by that cop?

 

When I used to listen to the song (back when it was first popular) I remember some girls talking about it being **** and BL's illegitimate baby that was thrown off the bridge?

But obviously that didn't match the movie since I think BL was only assumed to be pregnant and **** had already drowned.

 

But when I watched a little of the movie last night, I was wondering if the doll that the cop pulled out of the water (along with ****'s body) was what was thrown off the bridge?

If I can get TCM ON-DEMAND to play a movie through to the end I'll have to watch this thing in it's entirety and see if there are any better clues....

 

Edit: Okay, so I'm not allowed to abreviate Billy Joe, but it's okay to abbreviate Bobby Lee?

Edited by Stephan55

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I never saw the film. I preferred the mystery of the song. Plus the film as I remember didnt get good reviews. Had no interest in seeing it.

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I never saw the film. I preferred the mystery of the song. Plus the film as I remember didnt get good reviews. Had no interest in seeing it.

According to Ben Mankiewicz last night, the film was very successful at the box office.

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Maybe I am totally "off-the-mark" on this 1976 film -

 

But "Ode to Billy Joe" seems to me to be the work of a gay man (that is, the director, Max Baer, Jr.) who was attracted to the film solely on the basis of its' anti-gay content.

 

That's right, it was 1976.

 

And the chicken hawk character (who is played by James Best) is allowed to walk Bobbie Lee to the bus stop so she and he can advance the fiction that Billy Joe was an undone heterosexual?

 

Forgive my ignorance, but are you saying that Max Baer, Jr. (aka Jethro Bodine) is gay?

 

a75803386febb222b0fe2b579e04963b.jpg

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I think it was Granny's possum stew that was thrown off the bridge, which

is a real shame because it tastes better after it's been sitting for a few

weeks. 

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I never saw the film. I preferred the mystery of the song. Plus the film as I remember didnt get good reviews. Had no interest in seeing it.

Kinda likewise (until in part last night).

I know that I can probably look this up, but was this movie totally inspired by (and an effort to flesh out) Bobbie Gentry's 1967 song?

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Sorry, but I too have never seen this flick, and I guess I missed it again last night, eh?!

 

But, personally and when it comes to 1960's Country Music crossover hits made into movies, I was always more a Harper Valley PTA sort'a guy.

 

(...yep, there's nothin' like listenin' to a person tellin' off a bunch of Southern Baptist hypocrites, ya know...uh-huh, now THAT's real entertainment, and there's sure no unresolved mystery in THAT one to boot!)

 

;)

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Forgive my ignorance, but are you saying that Max Baer, Jr. (aka Jethro Bodine) is gay?

 

a75803386febb222b0fe2b579e04963b.jpg

Just a conjecture on my part, from watching some episodes of "The Beverly Hillbillies" on MeTV.

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I think it may be time to take another look at the Jethro, Dash

Riprock relationship. You know how these Hollywood types

can be.

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Ugh, my cousin & I saw it at the theater (I was 15, she was 17) and we left the theater confused. "Gay" wasn't a subject for teens back then, it was still kept pretty under the radar. We were however, sophisticated enough to think Robbie Benson was a terrible actor.

My recollection was this movie bombed.

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"The mystery of the song"?

 

Which one?  What WAS thrown off the bridge?  Or why Biily Joe jumped off?

 

I always assumed that it was something like flowers or some such thing that Billy and Bobbie were throwing into the water or some such crap.  And possibly Billy Joe jumped out of either frustration over unrequited love, or maybe they tried getting it on and for some reason he couldn't "rise" to the occasion.  I can't be sure.  Bobbie Gentry surely must have answered that question somewhere.

 

I also guess the movie tries to claim it was the DOLL that Brother Taylor saw them throwing off the bridge, but from his location couldn't tell WHAT it was. 

 

I also suppose the "latent homosexuality" angle worked best as to why a young Southern man in the '50's would resort to suicide.  I mean, they had to come up with something, or else the movie going audience, EXPECTING the movie to solve these mysteries, would stomp out angry and give the movie a negative reception.

 

GLYNNIS O'CONNOR sure had "boy troubles" that year, didn't she?  From washed out Marine recruit JAN MICHAEL-VINCENT( Baby Blue Marine)  to sickly JOHN TRAVOLTA (The Boy In The Plastic Bubble) to the sexually ambiguous ROBBIE BENSON, she surely had to feel that love wasn't in the cards for her!  ;)

 

 

Sepiatone

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Ugh, my cousin & I saw it at the theater (I was 15, she was 17) and we left the theater confused. "Gay" wasn't a subject for teens back then, it was still kept pretty under the radar. We were however, sophisticated enough to think Robbie Benson was a terrible actor.

My recollection was this movie bombed.

In the film, Robby Benson gave a terrific performance.

 

He was also good-looking and had a great deal of charm.

 

Some people might call him - idiosyncratic.

 

Because his movie-star presence was totally unique.

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I seem to remember that the novelization of the film fleshes out the gay angle a bit more, but I'm pretty sure that Ms. Gentry has never offered any definitive explanation as to what was thrown off that bridge, or why.

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I think it may be time to take another look at the Jethro, Dash

Riprock relationship. You know how these Hollywood types

can be.

Hey, no cracks about my friend, Dash Riprock who stole the idea for his name from mine although I will admit he was a lot more dashing than I.

 

 

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I seem to remember that the novelization of the film fleshes out the gay angle a bit more, but I'm pretty sure that Ms. Gentry has never offered any definitive explanation as to what was thrown off that bridge, or why.

I saw Gentry in concert way back then and when asked about the item thrown off the bridge she told the audience it was something that they found in the Paw Paw Patch, a bit like the Strange Fruit of the Billie Holiday song. Makes sense and could be the lynch pin if you get my drift as we are talking Southern style doings. Note that the song name is spelled "Billie" not "Billy" much like the idiosyncratic spelling of Holiday's name.

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I seem to remember that the novelization of the film fleshes out the gay angle a bit more, but I'm pretty sure that Ms. Gentry has never offered any definitive explanation as to what was thrown off that bridge, or why.

The film was written by Herman Raucher,  who also gave us "Summer of '42", which was another tale of a young man who runs across a much older person.

 

Neither film ends well, in terms of the "romance", but, at least in "Summer of '42", the young man was allowed to survive.

 

In 1976, even though the screen was more "permissive", a young man could not survive a homosexual encounter.

 

Robby Benson's anguish and torment is really very difficult to watch - it is just SO DEEP.

 

All the more reason that James Best's "chicken hawk" who simply walks away from it all is a totally unacceptable conclusion to Billy Joe's suicide.

 

Should he have been allowed to walk away with Bobbie Lee and continue in the myth of a heterosexual Billy Joe?

 

No, he should have "suffered" for what he did.

 

Because he was a married man, who was living a lie, and caused Billy Joe's suicide.

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I think it was the doll, but it accidently went off the bridge. It was part of the small town  being gossips, because the mother mentioned that somebody saw  her and Billy throw some thing in the water. That's why it's so when  the doll gets thrown back in  because it's only a stupid doll, which the  gossips were making such a big deal about seeing  something thrown in the water.(and only a child would care about, and Bobbie was growing up) When the pair saw the minister, the girl said minister's always think the worst after Billy said they weren't doing anything .I think the girl had her own  agenda. I think  gay was  misunderstood and illegal back then . If the truth came out I think she would of been looked down on that Billy preferred a man to her .She told Billy's boyfriend that the town folks would believe Billy got a  desireable girl pregnant .I think Bobbie wanted to go to the big city, remember she talked her father in getting a toilet. She seemed to be pretty street smart in the way she handled  Billy's boyfriend. The whole town seemed to be hypocrites, the only time I remember seeing her brother's girlfriend  was at church, but when her brother told her to get an abortion he mentioned that his girlfriend had one.

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According to Ben Mankiewicz last night, the film was very successful at the box office.

 

 

Maybe it did, but it went the quick play off route. Seemed more like a drive-in type of movie to me.........

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I seem to remember that the novelization of the film fleshes out the gay angle a bit more, but I'm pretty sure that Ms. Gentry has never offered any definitive explanation as to what was thrown off that bridge, or why.

 

 

And why should she? Best to keep the mystery, like Carly Simon's You're So Vain.........

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Kinda likewise (until in part last night).

I know that I can probably look this up, but was this movie totally inspired by (and an effort to flesh out) Bobbie Gentry's 1967 song?

 

 

Of course it was. But it was the screenplay writers take on it, not Gentrys.......

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Of course it was. But it was the screenplay writers take on it, not Gentrys.......

So true, the original song is not really well represented by the rather lame movie and that scene with the ridiculous doll falling into the water, made me want to shoot out my tv, a la the Elvis Presley take on watching Robert Goulet singing.

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Hey, no cracks about my friend, Dash Riprock who stole the idea for his name from mine although I will admit he was a lot more dashing than I.

 

 

I will let you two figure it out. Even in the hippie counterculture

1960s, dashing was still in.

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I will let you two figure it out. Even in the hippie counterculture

1960s, dashing was still in.

I am too old to have been part of the hippie counterculture. I was known as Dash, short for Dashiell way back when I dated Lillian Hellman who insisted in calling me that during romantic interludes. She ripped off all her best plays from my exploits when I was an undercover agent on the Rhine during the Big One.

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