my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   Billy Jack
Director:   Tom Laughlin
Year:   1971
Genre:   Hippie
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   04.28.06

Other Movies Seen By This Director (1)
- The Born Losers

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
04.28.06Alamo DowntownThis Screening is part of event: Best of QT Fest
So it's already 4:30am and I'll probably have to be up at around noon so I have no time to mess around. I'll just get down to it. To start tonight off, Louis Black took stage and said that tonight was the best triple feature of all time. You could maybe program a triple feature as good as this, but never better.

This was surprising.

All freakin week, whenever Billy Jack came up people groaned. This was easily the least anticipated film of the entire fest, so much so that I was completely primed to hate it even though I've never seen it. For real, people were talking about deliberately missing it or going in just to hear QT's intro then take a nap for two hours, completely dismissing the movie as long and boring and stupid and a waste of time and anyone who likes it is a loser, quentin included if quentin's not just pretending to like it in order to look cool. So for Black to say that this is one of his favorite movies and he's seen it over and over again... well that makes him a loser, right?

I don't think I'll answer that... instead I'll just flip forward really quick and say that for people alive and old enough to know what was going on in 1971, I can totally see how they love this movie. It's got all of the freedom of expression and human rights and all that other dainty idealistic hippy crap that never actually took over the nation even though a lot of people really wanted it to. I think this is what informs all of the scenes that Micah can't stomach... it's a lot like Cartman who has absolutely zero time for dirty hippy propaganda. All those scenes of Laughlin's woman talking about pacifism and whatnot... right up a whole generation of young people's alley. It's no surprise it was so popular and it's no surprise that all of the then-young,now-old people have a soft spot in their dirty hippy hearts for it. Or maybe I just think that because I wasn't born until 1978 and all I got was Michael Jackson and Transformers.

Anyway, Billy Jack actually wasn't that bad. Of course it wasn't as good as Quentin said it would be either, but oh well. He talked a lot about Indian religious explanations, Laughlin's love for his woman, Pauline Kael calling it the best post-rape scene ever put on film, and regaled us with... talking about his recitation of the best scene when it played at QT5. Yeah, like I need another reason to hate that I wasn't at QT5.

There are a few good scenes though... Actually, for whatever reason, there's a few improv comedy scenes that really work well. They feature a pre WKRP Howard Hessman and are pretty entertaining. There's a too-long scene where kids try to stop some sort of town mandate to close a school or something plot-ish like that and one of the guys who speaks is named O.K. Corrales. When the old dude insists that he give his real name, O.K. responds "My real name is O.K. Corrales. Do you have something against mexicans!?" Also, whenever Billy Jack has to kick some ass, it's extremely enjoyable. Of course, in between you have lots of hippy politics... That I also enjoyed on a much different level. I loved how everyone treated pacifism as a very specific thing... like it was almost a style of kung-fu. lines like "Not a bad idea for a pacifist" and "Damn your pacifism!" made me chuckle. QT also mentioned that he mentioned in his first intro that it was sort of funny that all of these pacifist message movies seemed to solve all their problems with violence. I guess that was the struggle of Billy Jack's character... but it also says something when the violent ass-kicking scenes are the funnest in the movie. I doubt many people watch this movie JUST for the teenager singing folk songs or to study the rite of snake brotherhood or whatever it was called when Billy Jack let a snake bite him then passed out for a while. I'm put my money on them seeing it for the ice cream shop scene where Billy Jack monologues the living shit out of the town rich guy's spoiled rotten son, or the scene directly following when he takes off his boots ("watch out for his feet, his feet'll kill ya") and puts the beatdown on a half dozen redneck goons.

I do have to say one more thing about this, specifically in comparison to Billy Jack knock-off Johnny Firecloud which played at QT6. At least Johnny Firecloud was MUTHAFUCKIN NATIVE AMERICAN! Where's Tom Laughlin get off judging "the white man" with his quiet calm indian-esque voice when he's got Irish freckles all over him. Sure, he probably claims some fraction of native american blood but does that come across on-screen? I guess maybe he's supposed to be a honky in reform or something... but come on. I'd hate to be a Native American back then and have my only role models be a white guy who kicks ass and an old dude who cries when people litter. I guess it's better than nowadays though...

Oh, and Louis Black had one other line that he threw out in his intro that really struck home to me, since I'd at least seen Vanishing Point before. he said that all three of these films have politics that they shove right in your face, but they're like Sam Fuller politics where you know you're seeing it but you're not quite sure what it means. The entire triple feature would prove that statement true for me... and I think that's what made this triple feature work so well together.
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