Ode to Billy Joe

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Time Out says

Based on Bobbie Gentry's caustic pop classic, Ode to Billy Joe fleshes out the narrative ambiguities and implications of the song with surprising success. Through sensitive use of some beautiful locations (Tallahatchie Bridge is always central to, but never overwhelms, the proceedings), sympathetic attention to the flavour of the period (like the excited reaction to a first flush toilet), and an unusually sinewy script from Herman Raucher (it only dissolves into sticky Rod McKuen territory towards the close), Baer convincingly depicts the smalltown mores of a Mississippi backwater in the early '50s. Virtually all the performances are winners, but most impressive are the star-crossed teenage lovers, Benson and O'Connor, who catch the joys, fears and fantasies of adolescence with ingenuous authenticity. Only the last half-hour becomes laboured, and in one sequence hideously sentimental, which is not improved by the intrusively slushy score from Michel Legrand.
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Release details

UK release:

1976

Duration:

106 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Max Baer

Cast:

James Best, Sandy McPeak, Joan Hotchkis, Glynnis O'Connor, Robby Benson, Terence Goodman

Music:

Michel Legrand

Art Director:

Philip M Jefferies

Editor:

Frank Morriss

Cinematography:

Michel Hugo

Screenwriter:

Herman Raucher

Producer:

Roger Camras, Max Baer

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