Ode to Billy Joe

Watch Ode to Billy Joe

"What the song didn't tell you, the movie will."
  • PG
  • 1976
  • 1 hr 45 min
  • 6.5  (1,989)

Ode to Billy Joe is a poignant drama released in 1976, directed by Max Baer Jr., and starring Robby Benson, Glynnis O'Connor, and Joan Hotchkis, among others. The movie, set in the Mississippi Delta during the 1950s, follows the life of a 17-year-old boy named Billy Joe McAllister (played by Benson). Billy Joe is a troubled boy, constantly struggling with his inner demons and a difficult home life in rural Mississippi. The story begins with Billy Joe sitting on a bridge, throwing something off the bridge into the water, and then walking away. Soon after, we see him and his family sitting down to a Sunday dinner, where his father (played by James Best) berates him and his mother (played by Sandy McPeak).

As we follow Billy Joe through his daily life, we see him falling in love with a local girl, Bobbie Lee Hartley (played by Glynnis O'Connor). Their relationship is at the heart of the story, and their connection is palpable, despite the obstacles they face. Billy Joe is a complex character, and Robby Benson's portrayal of this conflicted teenager is both nuanced and empathetic. He is a boy grappling with a sense of responsibility and an inner turmoil that we don't fully understand.

Throughout the film, there are references to a tragic event that occurred before the story begins, and we are left wondering what this event could be. The tension builds as Billy Joe's relationship with Bobbie Lee deepens, and the townsfolk gossip about the couple. Bobbie Lee is ostracized by her friends for dating Billy Joe, and the couple's growing romance is a source of tension and conflict.

As the story progresses, we see how difficult life is for Billy Joe, trying to deal with his feelings of isolation and sadness. He spends most of his days fishing with his friend, and their conversations provide a window into Billy Joe's inner world. Eventually, we discover what was thrown off the bridge at the beginning of the film, and it is a shocking revelation that will change the course of Billy Joe's life.

Overall, Ode to Billy Joe is an emotionally resonant film that explores complex themes such as family dynamics, class structures, adolescent angst, and societal pressures. The film is beautifully shot, capturing the lush greens and browns of the Mississippi Delta in the 1950s. The performances are strong all around, with the chemistry between Benson and O'Connor being a particular highlight. The film's haunting soundtrack, which includes the iconic song "Ode to Billy Joe" by Bobbie Gentry, adds to its melancholic mood and serves as a counterpart to Billy Joe's troubled psyche.

In conclusion, Ode to Billy Joe is a well-crafted drama that deals with some weighty subject matter. Max Baer Jr.'s direction is deft, and the script by Herman Raucher is sensitively written, with layered characters that feel true to life. The film's ending may leave some viewers with more questions than answers, but that's part of its charm. Ode to Billy Joe is a meditation on the complexities of human emotions, and it does so with thoughtfulness and heart.

Ode to Billy Joe is a 1976 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 45 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.5.

Ode to Billy Joe
Where to Watch Ode to Billy Joe
Ode to Billy Joe is available to watch free on YouTube. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Ode to Billy Joe for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 45 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.5  (1,989)