Back when I was fifteen I couldn't stand movies like Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw. Rural settings, country music, car culture. It simply wasn't my thing. I would have run a mile to avoid watching something like Smokey and the Bandit.

Now I'm different. I still don't love Burt Reynolds movies, but I watch them and I like them well enough. Even if they will never by among my favorites.

So I never watched Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw. I had not the slightest inclination to do so. I'm glad I waited until a time in my life when I can appreciate it.

Kino Video has released Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw in blu-ray and my old movie buddy and I watched it the other night. I found it to be a perfect slice of drive-in cinema, with all the necessary ingredients. You have the obligatory car chases and crashes, drug use, redneck cop shenanigans, 70's era anti-heroes, and a nihilistic crime spree.

Former child evangelist and Christian scam whistleblower Marjoe Gortner stars as the titular Outlaw, and beautiful Lynda Carter is Bobbie Jo. She is an innocent, naive young woman with dreams of Nashville in her head. Poor Bobbie Jo is swept off her feet by a charming transient con man played by Marjoe. They hit the road in a stolen Mustang, stealing and killing their way across New Mexico.

The cast of Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw is a good one, with B-Movie sweetheart Belinda Balaski as a doomed flower child, the always hysterical Gerritt Graham as a preposterously deadpan hippie in a dress, and rugged James Gammon as an oafish sheriff chasing the outlaws.

Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw was directed by reliable drive-in filmmaker Mark L. Lester, who gave us Commando, Class of 1984, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Roller Boogie, and the mind-blowing Truck Stop Women.

Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw is far more effective than any of the redneck car comedies that proliferated in the 1970's. Released in '76, it exemplifies the decade's embrace of car culture and moral decay with deadly accuracy. Gortner brings the fevered intensity he learned at the pulpit to the fray, and Carter shed her squeaky-clean Wonder Woman reputation with her nuanced performance.

So hot wire a car, load up on Coors Beer, and take a trip back to the days of honest exploitation with Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw. It's not a pretty or happy story, but it is a stark, frank attempt to examine disenfranchised outsiders from a different era.

Written by Mark Sieber

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry