Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw


Just before former Miss World USA Lynda Carter became famous as Wonder Woman, she was experiencing a lull in her career that led to her participation in this cheapo exploitation flick from American International Pictures, the masters of quickie drive-in flicks. (This film was actually released after she began the Wonder Woman series!) Like porno films, the AIP B-movies tried to capitalize on genres and themes that were hot at the time, and in the era of this particular film that meant good ol' boys in souped-up cars in the style of Burt Reynolds. Reynolds had first scored country paydirt as Gator McKlusky in White Lightning (1973), and was busy making a sequel to that film (Gator, 1976) while AIP was trying to create its own country outlaw in the form of preacher-turned-actor Marjoe Gortner.

AIP got the lead character's rebellious attitude right, but they kinda took the "outlaw" concept to an extreme level. While the bad boy characters of Burt Reynolds would occasionally screw up some police cars in high-speed chases, thus causing some bumbling deputies to end up with their arms in slings, Marjoe's character basically went on a robbery and murder spree that would culminate with his death in a hail of bullets, ala Bonnie and Clyde. That Beatty/Dunaway classic is not the only good film which receives a ... er ... homage ... here. If you enjoyed Deliverance (another Burt Reynolds movie), you won't want to miss this film's bloody recreation of the famous "squeal like a pig" sequence. Despite the intense violence, the script and Marjoe's laid-back performance continue to represent the lead character as a likeable fun-lovin' country boy outsmarting the bumbling local sheriff, as if his homicides were just some more wacky pranks from the Duke boys.

Some elements of this film are almost surreal. Forget the "almost." They are surreal. Some examples:

Marjoe is stalking a sexy waitress (Carter) when he falls asleep in his stolen car while parked on her block. When he awakes, she's in the passenger seat, telling him to drive anywhere. They head out to the desert, where they are hiking through the ruins of an old Native American village when Carter suddenly produces a guitar and starts singing.

They are trapped inside a trailer when the cops find their stolen Mustang out by the mailbox. So how do they get away? Nothing to it. They make their escape in another car and a school bus which materialize from nowhere.

They plan to rob a local bank, but Marjoe says "we need more firepower." In the next scene, Marjoe and his sidekick are teaching Lynda and her sister how to shoot M-16s. In the next scene, they are holding up a gun shop. How did they get assault rifles before the robbery? And why did they need more guns if they already had high-powered automatic combat weapons? Maybe the editor got the sequencing of the scenes wrong, but I don't think so, because Lynda Carter used the combat rifle to provide cover for the gun shop robbery, so she must have had it before that robbery took place. The most likely explanation is that the production team was rewriting the film on the fly, filming scenes out of sequence, and getting confused on the details. My bet is that the editor had to piece footage together as coherently as possible. At any rate, there's no possible explanation for their having come up with M-16s between "we need more firepower" and the gun shop robbery, given that the script stresses how broke they were, and there's no justification for robbing the gun shop if they already had the weapons they needed to rob the bank!

The bumbling, sweaty local sheriff from Noplace, New Mexico keeps pursuing Lynda and Marjoe throughout Texas, with neither assistance nor interference from local law enforcement officers. The film makes this one small-town sheriff seem to be the only law west of the Pecos, like Judge Roy Bean.

While the outlaw gang is hiding out in the desert, one of them says something like, "We're gonna die unless we can high-tail it to Old Mexico before them pigs catch up with us." His girlfriend responds, "Yeah, I could sure use a taco right about now."

By the way, you might have noted the similarity in the titles "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw," but you'd be wrong to assume that AIP was ripping off the big studio film. Bobbie Jo actually came out a year before Smokey, so AIP was actually on the cutting edge of the trend which would soon rule both big screens and small in the late 70s, when Reynolds would have a big hit with Smokey and the Bandit, and The Dukes of Hazzard would begin a long TV run. Of course, AIP didn't have a lot of money in their budgets, so this film is punctuated with exactly one country song which is repeated again and again. There is another musical number, but its a lame pseudo-country ballad written especially for the film and sung by Wonder Woman, accompanied by her ownself strumming some simple guitar chords. She's not a bad singer, but has a voice more suited to cabaret torch reviews than to the Grand Ole Opry.

Apart from the budget problems, the repetitive score, the bizarre lack of continuity, and the fact that every character is a stereotype, the film also managed to haul out every imaginable clich in the 1970s film playbook: a grizzled Native American takes the outlaw gang on an acid trip in the desert; the outlaws stay at a New Mexico commune in the hand-built home of a hippie friend; the cops rough up and insult the hippie; the outlaws hide out and rest in the barn of an old farm couple and insist on paying them; ...


You get the idea.

It's the drive-in era at its pinnacle!

Nudity Report:

The good news: the film rarely goes ten minutes without some naked female flesh.




  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


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