Billy Jack

Posted: May 14, 2012 in 70's Retrospective

Sunday night has become 70’s retrospective night for me. Last night was Dirty Harry and the week before was the cult classic Billy Jack. Both movies were released in 1971 but BJ has dated somewhat more than Harry. However it remains a favourite of mine and I would have seen it 6 times in the year of release. I mentioned the use of music in Dirty Harry for dramatic effect. BJ had a popular soundtrack at the time but the only song that holds up well is the title track

Created by the husband and wife team of Laughlin and Taylor it also spawned some inferior sequels and even an earlier forgettable effort with Born Losers. Billy Jack struck a chord though – the half breed ex green beret hapkido expert ( kickee thump for us) who abhorred violence but realised at times it was the only option. If he wasnt saving wild mustangs becoming dog meat he was protecting the “hippies” from the Freedom school run by Taylor. The scenes with these “kids” are the ones that have dated poorly as have the songs. The villian of the piece is a familiar figure – the rich man with the spoilt tosser son. The most recognised scene is the “I just go beserk” in the ice cream parlour followed by the gang fight in the city park when Billy plants one on Posner’s ear and there is nothing he can do about it. There are many familiar characters in this movie – the honest abe sherriff torn between duty and humanity; the dirty deputy; the rebellious daughter etc.

Bruce Lee had not broken yet so Billy Jack became the hero to many a young man in its day – much like Harry Callahan actually but you didnt need a big gun to be Billy. There are scenes that drag now especially those involving the Indian ceremonies but it still holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of simpler times when going to the movies was a real event and you walked out into the afternoon sun bouncing on your heels ready for action as the theme song played on spool in your head. Harry and Billy were heroes in a time of social change and their simple values and strong moral code seemed to offer an easy solution to the world’s problems. The questionable logic of this didn’t bother a youth in the 70’s and isn’t that the joy of movies?

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