The Ballad of Little Jo

Watch The Ballad of Little Jo

"In the Wild West, a woman had only two choices. She could be a wife or she could be a whore... Josephine Monaghan chose to be a man."
  • R
  • 1993
  • 2 hr 1 min
  • 6.7  (1,719)

The Ballad of Little Jo is a 1993 American Western directed by Maggie Greenwald and starring Suzy Amis as Josephine "Jo" Monaghan. The film is loosely based on the true story of a young woman who, after fleeing an abusive relationship and being disowned by her wealthy family, masquerades as a man named "Jo" and travels west to start a new life.

The film opens with Jo's arrival in a small Idaho mining town in the late 19th century. After being robbed and stranded by her male traveling companion, Jo cuts her hair short and adopts a masculine persona in order to find work and avoid the scrutiny of the all-male townspeople. She befriends a group of Chinese immigrants who live on the outskirts of town and becomes skilled in horseback riding and ranch work.

As "Jo" settles into life in the town, she becomes close with a young widow named Mary Addie (played by Heather Graham), and slowly begins to reveal her true identity to her new friend. However, their friendship is cut short when Mary's abusive ex-husband, Frank Badger (played by Bo Hopkins), turns up and threatens Jo's new life.

The plot thickens when a British geologist named Percy Corcoran (played by Ian McKellen) arrives in town and takes a romantic interest in "Jo". Their courtship is complicated by Jo's dual identity and the fact that Percy is being blackmailed by Frank Badger, who has discovered Jo's secret and threatens to expose her.

The Ballad of Little Jo is a poignant and thought-provoking film that explores themes of gender identity, sexuality, and belonging. Suzy Amis delivers a powerhouse performance as the complex and multi-faceted Jo, capturing both her strength and vulnerability. The supporting cast, particularly Ian McKellen and Bo Hopkins, are also excellent, bringing depth and nuance to their respective roles.

The film is also notable for its stunning cinematography, which captures the rugged beauty of the Idaho wilderness and the stark contrast between the dusty mining town and the lush landscape that surrounds it.

Overall, The Ballad of Little Jo is a must-see film for fans of Westerns, biopics, and feminist cinema. It offers a fresh and original take on the classic genre, and its exploration of gender and identity remains as relevant today as it was when the film was first released nearly 30 years ago.

The Ballad of Little Jo is a 1993 romance movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 1 minute. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.7.

The Ballad of Little Jo
Where to Watch The Ballad of Little Jo
The Ballad of Little Jo is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Amazon and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Ballad of Little Jo for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 1 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.7  (1,719)