Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976)

Actress Lynda Carter, a.k.a. TVs’ ‘Wonder Woman’, makes her film debut alongside the legendary Marjoe Gortner in this sleazy and pleasing trash flick. She plays Bobbie Jo Baker, a carhop who hooks up with Gortners’ easygoing charmer Lyle Wheeler. She has ambitions of being a country & western singer, he’s a self styled loner who idolizes Billy the Kid. Soon after their meeting, they start to get involved in a series of crimes that spiral out of control. Along for the ride are Bobbie Jo’s spunky older sister Pearl (Merrie Lynn Ross), her boyfriend Slick Callahan (Jesse Vint), and Bobbie Jo’s sweet best friend Essie (Belinda Balaski). Producer / director Mark L. Lester, working from a screenplay by Vernon Zimmerman, keeps the action moving and makes great use of the assorted New Mexico locations. Zimmerman’s script has a sometimes episodic nature; for one example, there’s an interlude with Lyle, Bobbie Jo, and Essie where they gather in a lake and feast on mushrooms with an aged Indian. It also has an in-joke here and there, such as a portly deputy named Abel Gance. There are enough glimpses of Lyndas’ left breast to tantalize the viewer while also making them wish there could have been some real nudity. Still, there is a grim and gritty quality to the movie, a refreshing sense of humour at times, and some scenes of bloody gunshot violence. The principal actors are all extremely easy to watch: Gortners’ inherent likability shines through, Carter is lovely as always, Vint is engaging while his character also shows an impulsive and deadly side, Balaski is adorable, and Ross (who takes a co-producer credit) adds irresistible sex appeal. Gene Drew is a typical hick sheriff who’s coldly determined to stop our protagonists, Peggy Stewart is Bobbie Jo and Pearl’s alcoholic mother, Gerrit Graham has a fun cameo as commune leader Magic Ray, “Devil Times Five” screenwriter John Durren plays the ill-fated Gance, Virgil Frye is a service station attendant who makes the fatal mistake of challenging Lyle on his quick draw abilities, James Gammon plays an amiable leather salesman, and future director Chuck Russell, who’s production supervisor and second assistant director here, is one of Drews’ deputies. Stanley Wright and Gil Hubbs do the sunny and slick cinematography, Barry De Vorzon composes the score, and there are two very nice songs to hear: Bobby Bare sings “Those City Lights”, and Carter herself performs the beautiful “Are You Lonely Like Me” written by J.C. Crowley. All of these elements make “Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw” fun, as well as the kind of downbeat ending we can often expect in this sort of thing.