Book Vs Movie Podcast
Book Vs Movie Podcast
Book Vs. Movie:
Ode to Billy Joe
The 1967 Song Vs. the 1976 Movie
It was a hot and steamy summer day when we recorded this episode, so we decided to go as far south as we could get here in the USA with the tale of Billie Joe Macallister (named
Billy Joe for the movie adaptation) and why he may have jumped to his death off the Tallahacthie Bridge.
Mississippi native Bobbie Gentry wrote the song in 1967 for her first album, and it became a huge sensation. The song is written from the viewpoint of the narrator, a young girl who knew Billie Joe but did not say if she is privy to why he died the way he did. How did she know him, and what did they throw from the bridge? These are still asked of the singer, but she kept it opaque. (She is also a recluse who never gives interviews, though she is considered a legend in country music.
The film was produced and directed by Max Baer, Jr. and written by Herman Racuher (of Summer of ‘42 fame ), who spoke privately with Gentry about the path he wanted to take fleshing out the story. It stars Robby Benson as a sexually confused young man who pursues teenage Bobbie Lee (Glynnis O’Connor.) The film was a massive hit in 1976, and if you check the IMDB and Reddit boards, you will still find people unsure of “what” was going on with Billy Joe that day.
So, what are the main differences between the song and the film? Which version did the Margos like better? Have a listen!
In this ep, the Margos discuss:
- Bobbie Gentry’s career and the long-lasting effect of the song’s success.
- Theories about the characters of the song
- The cast of the 1976 film: Robby Benson (Billy Joe McAllister ), Glynnis O’Connor (Bobbie Lee Hartley ), Joan Hotchkis (Mrs. Hartely), Sandy McPeak (Papa,) James Best (Dewey Barksdale ), Terence Goodman (James Hartley,) and Becky Bowen as Becky Thompson.
- Bobbie Gentry (1967 Andy Williams special)
- Ode to Billy Joe (1976 trailer)
- Billy Joe meets Bobbie’s parents
- Bobbie Lee and Billy Joe have a date
- Crazy Mississippi party
- Billy Joe confesses his “sin”
- Bobbie Lee leaves town
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