Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Remembering The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)

Ah, The Legend of Billie Jean. Now that is a sweet, nostalgic memory for me, one of those movies that you see when you are a kid and it just stays with you, even though it wasn't the best movie out there.

Picture it: Corpus Christi, Texas in midsummer, and in those seasonably warm times, well, tempers flare and a simple incident between the Billie Jean and Binx Davy(Helen Slater and Christian Slater respectively, no relation) and a group of teens led by Hubie Pyatt leads to Binx getting beaten and his scooter wrecked.

In trying to find recompense for the 608 dollars in scooter damage from Hubie's father, storeowner Mr. Pyatt, what Billie Jean finds instead is a bad situation that nearly leads to her rape and an accidental shooting that forces the Davys become outlaws in an instant, despite the best efforts of detective Lt. Ringwald (Peter Coyote), who senses that there is far more to the story than Mr. Pyatt is letting on.

As the gang(which includes Billie Jean's best friend Ophelia and young neighbor Putter, played by Yeardley Smith) stays one step ahead of the law, their story resonates with the young people of Texas, who help them every step of the way and they become legends in their own time, getting credited(or blamed) for various crimes they had nothing to do with. And throughout it all, the only demand that Billie Jean makes is that she just wants Pyatt to pay for the repair and admit his own wrongdoing, because "Fair is Fair" while Ringwald tries to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation.

Because of the themes and the soundtrack, the movie was expected to do very well at the box office, but when it all came down, The Legend of Billie Jean only managed to make about $3 million in theatres, which meant that it was largely marginalized after that. But over the years it has sort of developed a cult following, and that is why I am still talking about it today. I saw it on video after it first came out, and I saw it recently, and you know what, it still holds up pretty well.

It still hasn't found a place on the DVD shelves as of yet, again because of music licensing, but news that it was recently shown in a high definition format seems to indicate that it may be coming to DVD soon, and if it does, it may just be worth your time to check it out.

10 comments:

Becca said...

I hate, hate, hated this movie as a kid but after reading your post I just might have to re-watch it...no I can't do it.

MC said...

Yeah, if you hated it, I don't think another viewing is going to change your mind.

Mayren said...

omg ! a lost Christian Slater movie. He's my 80's crush and I have every other flick. This i had no idea even existed. THANKS!

MC said...

So you've seen the Good Shepherd (2004) and his turn on Alias a few seasons ago as well?

jhk said...

The Legend of Billie Jean is the bomb. It was way ahead of its time, foreseeing not only the power of the media and the cult of "celebrity" but it also empowered kids to stand up for what was fair.

Also, Helen Slater was the hotttness in that Jean Seberg/Joan of Arc haircut and wet suit.

MC said...

Yeah, the Jean Seberg had something going on too. ;)

Anonymous said...

Fair is Fair! lol! I loved this movie as a kid. I watched it all the time.

Anonymous said...

I loved this movie! I catch it on cable every now and then. What's driving me nuts is who played the part of the rich kid that faked the kidnapping? He looks like he could be the son of James Woods. What is the kid's name?

MC said...

Anon 1: That's when I saw it too :)

Anon 2: His name is Keith Gordon... he was also in Christine and Back to School.

Anonymous said...

What most everyone doesn't know is that Johnny Depp's band "The Kids" had a song that was included on the soundtrack.