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
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
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
cliché 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!
The good news: the film rarely goes ten minutes without some naked