|Copyright 1971 National Student Film Corporation.
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 9 May 2001.
- Billy Jack - Judo master, medicine man, and crack shot who loves to wear denim.
- Jean - Pacifist founder of a revolutionary school where kids go to explore their creative talents.
- Sheriff Cole - A pox upon this worthless creature. Why does he even bother getting out of bed in the morning?
- Barbara - Hateful young woman with no self-respect or common sense.
- Martin - Young man who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time and usually gets punched in the stomach for his trouble. At long last somebody doesn't punch him in the stomach, they shoot him four times in the head.
- Mike - Deputy that acts as a toad for the evil bigwig. He is also doing a fantastic job of raising an abrasive and unhappy daughter, until she runs away and Billy Jack shoots him.
- Mr. Posner - Evil bigwig who calls the shots in this small desert town. I don't know why he is the bigwig, especially after seeing the car he drives, but that's the deal.
- Bernard - He is the bigwig's son and a complete wuss for the most part. Finds just enough courage to annoy Billy Jack and get his throat crushed.
|I've had an epiphany: I really don't understand my parents' generation at all.
All things considered, I wanted to like the movie a whole lot more than I did. Our hero is a soft-spoken man who honestly tries to get along with people, until they do something stupid (usually stupid = racist); then he completely knocks their block off. It's a philosophy to live by.
You also have to understand that Billy Jack will be repeatedly referred to as an "Injun," usually with the adjective "damn" preceding. Tom Laughlin does not look like a Native American to me - at all. Except for the hat, one has to admit that the hat looks like something you'd find in a store selling leather products and Native American crafts. So, just to prevent any confusion for first time viewers, if somebody is called an "Indian" (or nasty derivative) then they are probably referring to the Caucasian guy in the denim jacket and black hat.
After being discharged from the Army, the protagonist has taken up residence among Pueblo ruins near a small southwestern town. There he protects the land, wild horses, and Jean's "Freedom School" from evil white men. Mr. Posner is the leader behind the EWMA (Evil White Man Association) and, just to let you know how much of a bigwig he is, the EWMA spends half a day rounding up horses on the reservation. They plan to slaughter them and sell the meat to dog food companies for six cents per pound. They rounded up about two dozen horses and we will say that each weighed twelve-hundred pounds (healthy). Now, let's also say that they garnered eight hundred pounds of usable dog chow from every horse. After dividing the profit between six men you end up with about two hundred dollars each; probably an appreciable amount of money for your average evil redneck, but if this is how Posner amassed his fortune then it's no wonder why he is driving that station wagon.
The day does not turn out profitable for Posner and his men though; Billy Jack rides up and lays down the law, 30-30 style. Thoroughly cowed, the bad guys drop their rifles and leave the reservation with phantom tails tucked between their legs. Enmity between Posner and Billy Jack now established, we can now learn why Mike sucks as a father.
Barbara is supposed to be a character we see grow and mature. At least that is my hypothesis. In reality she is easy to despise. When we are first introduced to the character she has just been returned home (having run away some time ago) and is encouraging Mike's domestic abuse theology. "I'm back, I hate you, I'm also pregnant and, since I've had sex with every guy between here and there, I don't know who the father is. Oh yeah, it's your fault too dad." Now, the jerk might very well be a grand turd in the hopper of parenthood; it is still hard to feel sorry for his daughter. She actually seems to work at proving herself a selfish and hateful witch. Every time her character appeared I had to scowl.
After yet another thumping Barbara runs away and is found unconscious in a field. Sheriff Cole has to do something about the situation, so he elects to hide her at the Freedom School. What the HELL? Half of this town's problems are the result of the Sheriff turning a blind eye to actions that are plainly wrong. How about blaming the man with the badge? Innocent people die during this film and not one person gets mad at Cole. Heck, everybody is happy to be his buddy.
We have mentioned the Freedom School several times now. It is a commune started by Jean to rescue runaways and turn their energy to creative work. One of the saving graces is an impromptu stage group led by Howard Hesseman, because other than that almost everything that happens at the school is agony. What do you think happens in a commune full of hippies? Darn right, they sing songs. They sing a lot of songs. Somebody stop the 70's, I want to get off.
Things start going downhill when the school enters the picture in all its horrible glory, but one of the best scenes in the film results when a busload of students take a trip into town. The kids know that they make the citizens nervous, so what do they do? Drive through town chanting, singing, hanging out the windows, and flashing peace signs at all the squares. Maybe not causing a scene would have been a good idea. Yah think? It was like ringing the dinner bell for Bernard and Dinosaur (an aptly named friend). They come running and bully the kids around until Billy Jack arrives. He sets them straight, but Mr. Posner and a large group of EWMA members have been waiting for a chance like this. Things look glum for Billy, but he calmly removes his boots (butt kicking is best done with bare feet) and does as much damage as possible.
Time to discuss Bernard briefly (let's just waste an entire paragraph). He refuses to shoot the cute horsey for his father's dog food franchise, but loves beating up people and later on rapes Jean. He even murders Martin! I understand that Billy has to have some good reason for killing the young man; it's just that we are all over the board with our villains. Is it a statement about him valuing the life of an animal more than an Indian's? Who knows?
Eventually the situation, that Sheriff Cole failed to defuse, breaks down and people start getting hurt. Billy Jack avenges Martin's death and then holes up in an adobe fortress when the law arrives. Barbara is with him at first too, largely on account that her father was indiscriminately throwing lead at the pair (doing a much better job of fatherhood now, Mike!). Will the hero surrender to the white man's law? A law he has no reason to trust? Um, there are two more movies in the series and the next starts with "The Trial of." What do you think?
Kudos on some points, but the film quickly goes downhill around the middle. Even some explanations of the strange crossbreed religion the good guys subscribe to only succeeded in confusing me further. Just imagine a mix of Native American spiritualism with Flower Child ideals and adding a healthy dose of Christianity. Jean starts explaining about Jesus talking to a medicine man at one point while Billy Jack is preparing to become a "brother to the snake." The latter involves taunting a very large rattlesnake until it bites the heck out of you. Just in case you were wondering.
I agree with the general themes, but there were far too many songs sung by girls with long hair (straight of course) and guitars.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- Wild horses and mountain goats are distant cousins. Key word being "distant."
- Hitting a woman in the face once will cause her to miscarry.
- Racial tension is easily fixed with a liberal application of bleached flour.
- The naked eye can discern facial features at a quarter mile.
- Interactive theater is great training for law enforcement officers.
- Corvettes do not float.
- Learning how to ride a horse while you are pregnant is not advised.
- When selecting a building (for your last stand) try to avoid ones made from mud and pine.
- 4 mins - Yelling loud enough to be understood over a herd of stampeding horses; now that's vocal power.
- 6 mins - "Hey Earl, did you hear the theme music change?"
- 20 mins - She really is playing that guitar...
- 22 mins - Notice how Jean's hair keeps changing; it just depends on what camera angle we are at.
- 27 mins - I'm confused. Is he holding the flour scoop at waist level or what?
- 47 mins - Somebody please stop this scene!
- 65 mins - A suitcase full of yogurt?
- 67 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A BRA!
- 74 mins - That is most certainly not Jean...
- 91 mins - Billy guessed that? Just off the top of his head? Is this man Sherlock Holmes reincarnated or something?
- 107 mins - So, you castrate him in your mind about twelve times (rounding up) every second?
- Angry Girl: "Damn your pacifism! I am not going to let that sick animal get away with this!"
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Posner: "We got the law here Billy Jack." |
Billy Jack: "When policemen break the law then there isn't any law. Just a fight for survival."
||Barbara: "In other words concerned father: I got balled by so many guys I don't know if the father's going to be white, Indian, Mexican, or black."
||A "rainbow, made of children?"
||Barbara: "What is the snake ceremony?" |
Jean: "The ceremony where Billy becomes a brother to the snake."
Barbara: "How does he do that?"
Jean: "By going on the mountain and being bitten by the snake, over and over."
|Theme Song|| Listen to a clip from the soundtrack. |
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
| ||Watch a scene||VIDEO||MPEG video files|| |
|Here is the scene with Billy Jack surrounded by a crowd of Posner's goons. They are definitely going to put a hurting on him, but the warrior intends to met out some justice before that happens.
| ||Leave a comment||EXTRAS||Buy the movie|| |
Reply #25. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by Mike
I too enjoyed the movie when I was a younger man. For some reason that song periodically gets in my head and the other night I sang it to my 9 and 10 year old at bed time. They want me to sing it every night now and last night my 10 year old asked me what was meant by the one tin soldier? Who is he and how did he get away?
I actually searched the net for some reasonable answer to her question and the best I could find was this thread on this site. So, what do you know about the mediphore of meaning of the one tin soldier rides away.
Reply #26. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by bill
I think the movie was made by the man to make the hip culture of the day look idiotic and help it to collapse in on itself. Which it eventually did due to self idolization, drugs, and assimilation into the establishment in order to buy VCR's to play movies like BJ. But I cannot tolerate watching the movie (and I was part of the 60's/70's sub-culture) because of the total disrespectful nature of the school toward society. Now, granted many kids did feel that way, but to think that a school actually encouraged children to harbor and feed such feelings is outrageously ridiculous.
Reply #27. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by pist_white_male
Oh for the love of CHEESE!! The Billy Jack movies are delightfully cheesy with a pretty good dose of macaroni, too.
The fight scenes are fun (abeit that ALL of the action was performed by Hapkido Master Bong Soo Han- check it out on DVD and stop the action- our halfbreed injun turns full breed Korean when he fights- most unusual).
The sex scenes are laughably gratuitous. Was that girl with the nice nekkid ass really only thirteen? Amazing.
They waste a s**tload of ordance in the big gunfight, then the big heartfelt pouring out of souls, then our hero rides off into the sunset, in a cop car.
WISCONSIN would be proud of this cheese.
Reply #28. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Brother Ragnarok
Do people really have so little to do that they must surf the internet actively looking for things that offend them so they can b***h and whine at the people who enjoy them to feel superior? Grow up, people. We don't fight wars so we can write reviews like this, we write reviews like this so we don't have to think about the wars we're fighting all the time.
For the most part, people who enjoy watching and enjoy reviewing and making fun of b-movies are very intelligent people and are certainly not ignorant racists. This is our entertainment, our form of escapism. Any disparaging remarks made about these movies and their themes, characters, or anything else about them are made with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Have you ever seen an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000? Most of the comments they make can be shouted down or explained away if you stop and look at them, but we don't want to do that because these things are what make us laugh.
So take your childish "violent short temper" and run along so you can be a big tough Green Beret and berate some other group of people who are having a harmless good time and bothering no one but those who choose to seek them out and be bothered by them.
Us "smart ones" have heard this all before, and it makes you look just as stupid and petty as it did the first time we heard it.
Reply #29. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Billy Jack Caused me to disrespect my good parents
Hey, according to PBS (Billy Jack kindred spirits), the wild horses were almost gone before us evil white people arrived in America in droves. Who hunted these pretty horses to extinction? Our fellow humans - those who came to America first. Why do large groups of racist people still keep referring to other people's skin color as if that matters (usually Democrats exploiting race, sex, age - whatever - to keep people voting for their soul-less party)?As Clint Eastwood says in 'The Unforgiven' "We All Have it Coming" - or, if you're a Christian, we are ALL sinners. Love your neighbor. What a concept. And to think that Jesus said this 2000 years before there was ever a Billy Jack or Rob Reiner.
Reply #30. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Mark Spangler
Even as a kid when I saw this one in the theatres it made me want to conceal my budding liberal tendancies.
Easy Rider was cool. Billy Jack was, well, how do I put this... a stupid idiot.
I wish this one tin soldier would've ridden into the sunset and then found true inner peace by beating up Trent Lott while he was in the larval stage. But no... Tom Laughlin had to go and make several more silly movies. "The Trial of Billy Jack"... "Billy Jack Makes a Sandwich"... "Billy Jack
Lights His Farts to Commune With the Great Stinky Father".
I don't mean to be sacrilegious. Okay, me speak with forked tongue. I do mean to be sacrilegious. It's just that trying to preach peace while beating up everyone in
sight sends a confused message. Kinda like compassionate conservatism.
The perfect counterpart to this liberal failure is the equally bad conservative epic "The Green Berets"... you know, where the sun sets on the wrong side of the planet.
Here's an idea. Tom Laughlin vs. John Wayne. Oh yeah baby!
I'd pay to see that ... "one tin pilgim rides away."
I knew this was a bad film when I was about nine when I saw it, when my idiot older brother thought it was deep and heavy. It's only value is the neat scene where Laughlin
hits that old fat dude in the side of the head with his foot.
Of course, back in 1972 if he'd done that in the town square of my little conservative berg, his balls would've been hanging from the marquee of the Princess Theatre where
something like "Ben Hur" would've still been playing that very Saturday night.
It was tough being a young liberal in my little town. "Billy Jerk" didn't help.
Reply #31. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Swamprat
Tom Laughlin versis the Duke? Yukyukyuk...I've always said "Chuck John Wayne and Clint Eastwwod in a locked closet with one baseball bat...and I know who's gonna come out..." You could chuck Tom in there too, just for a little seasoning...to bring in the hip younger crowd. Ol' Clint's gonna swagger out and ask everyone..."What the hell you lookin' at?" Yeah, Clint made a few clinkers, but never has he ever shown his political ass in the process. I never miss "The Green Berets" when it's on, being a survivour of that era myself I love a good hard laugh as much as the next cynical bastard. Easy Rider WAS cool...but Hopper and Fonda would't make it outta the closet either...Clint wouldn't have needed the fancy Kung-Fu to whip ass on the town boss and his thugs...he'd have spit once, squinted, checked the angle of the sun, then pulled John Wayne's freshly extracted thigh bone from behind his back and proceeded to beat the whole town to death with it. While Laughlin and the Duke were busy making this dishonest tripe, Clint was just making movies. Most of his films at this time would become considered as minor classics...(We're not gonna mention Paint Your Wagon...anyone who has seen it will know why.) One point I'd like to make is this...All politics are dishonest, therefore all films with a decidedly political angle are dishonest...some call it propaganda...I just call it bulls**t...I think Clint would look great in Billy Jack's hat. It doesn't really matter, he'd still kick major movie ass wearing a sun bonnet and a diaper...The Duke's personna was an overblown right-wing pro-American myth. Tom-Billy Jack-Laughlin's was leaning to the left. Clint was the Man-With-No-Name who took no sides but his own...just like real "heroes" must do, for better or worse. And in the end, what the Hell? It's all just MOVIES! The Duke sucked in just about every film he made except for the action-comedies and a handfull of the westerns...I don't even consider Tom Laughlin as a player in the movieworld big league...he was just a flash in the pan...but Clint, like The-Man-With-No-Name, never wavers. One Tin Soldier would limp away, if he was lucky enough to get away at all after an encounter with the Pale Rider.
Reply #32. Posted on March 13, 2003, 03:59:38 PM by runningmountainfawn
Billy Jack has hit the nail right on the head! I am full-blood Cherokee and I feel a lot of what Billy Jack said hits home on a personal level. The government HAS stolen a great deal from the American Indian, and I wish there really was a way we could get back our rightful heritage. My Grandmother was on the Trail of Tears, and my father told me some of the things that happened back then. I wish I knew how to get hold of Tom Laughlin. I would like to speak with him about his beliefs and views on this subject. Does he really believe and feel this way?
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