Lynda the Lawbreaker – Rediscovering ‘Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw’ (US 1976 – 89 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - February 17, 2014
Lynda the Lawbreaker – Rediscovering ‘Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw’ (US 1976 – 89 mins)

An enjoyable little exploitation quickie, ‘Bobbie Jo & the Outlaw’ is a fast moving action flick with a familiar cast, exciting chases, and tense shoot-outs. Yes, it’s full of clichés and stereotypical characters, but it’s nevertheless a fun, explosive piece, well worth rediscovery.

After pulling into the garage where she works, charismatic car thief Lyle Wheeler (Marjoe Gortner) meets bored carhop Bobbie Jo Baker (Lynda Carter). Later, after an argument with her mother, Bobbie Jo skips town with Lyle, and the pair head out into the New Mexico desert where they discuss their hopes and dreams. Bobbie Jo idolizes Linda Ronstadt and longs to be a country star, while Lyle talks about guns and Billy the Kid. After teaching Bobbie Jo how to handle a gun, the pair are soon joined by her best friend Essie (Belinda Balaski), as well as her stripper sister Pearl (Merrie Lynn Ross), and Pearl’s boyfriend Slick (Jesse Vint). They soon run into trouble when Lyle and Slick attempt an armed robbery, resulting in Lyle killing a security guard. Taking to the road, this new gang of amateur outlaws are soon embarking on a crime spree of robberies and shootings, with the law firmly on their tails.

In her movie debut, twenty five year old Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter is extremely likeable here. With her million dollar smile and shapely curves, Lynda equips herself well as Bobbie Jo Baker, the good girl gone bad. This was the former Miss World semi-finalist’s only exploitation role, sticking mainly to family fare and television movies, memorably playing Rita Hayworth in 1983. But here, nobody has ever looked so good in a pair of jeans! Former child evangelist Marjoe Gortner plays the gun loving drifter, Lyle, a quick-draw champ and wannabe outlaw. This same year, Gortner also starred in the tacky giant rodent flick; ‘The Food of the Gods’, with Pamela Franklin and Ida Lupino. A couple of years later, Marjoe co-starred with Caroline Munro and a young David Hasselhoff in the cult Italian Sci-fi; ‘Starcrash’ (’78).

Director Mark L. Lester had previously made the excellent drive-in movie ‘Truck Stop Women’ (’74), with Claudia Jennings. A talented writer, producer and director, Lester later made the Linda Blair disco drama ‘Roller Boogie’ (’79), and, in 1982 would join the exploitation big league with the infamous buzz-saw classic; ‘Class of 1984’. Lester’s biggest success however came in 1985, when he directed Arnold Schwarzenegger in the high body count favourite; ‘Commando’, and it remains his own personal favourite.

The cult supporting cast includes bubbly Merrie Lynn Ross (also in Lester’s ‘Class of 1984’), and B-movie regular Jesse Vint, as Pearl and Slick. Belinda Balaski, who plays Essie, had a busy career and went on to co-star in the horror favourites; ‘Piranha’ (’78), and ‘The Howling’ (’81). As well as a catchy title song by Bobby Bare (“City Lights”), Carter too gets a chance to show off her musical talents with a tuneful little ballad called “Are You Lonely Like Me”.

‘Bobby Jo and the Outlaw’ was made by the prolific American International Pictures, who, since the mid fifties, had been the kings of drive-in exploitation. A company known for capitalizing on current movie trends, they specialized in ‘creature features’ and ‘women-in-prison’ dramas, whilst also taking in the ‘Beach’ scene and ‘Biker’ flicks.

‘Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw’ is a fast moving cheapie with a good cast revelling in cheesy dialogue, sloppy editing and violent action. Oh, and there’s plenty of bumbling cops to keep the cliché quota up.

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