“The “Legend of Billie Jean” takes place in Texas. When the film opens it is a sweltering summer day in Corpus Christi. Siblings, Billie Jean, portrayed by Helen Slater (Supergirl), and Binx, played by three time Golden Globe nominee Christian Slater (Mr. Robot), are swimming. Moments later, Hubie (Barry Tubb) and his friends show up. They’re interested in Billie Jean. The feeling is not mutual. A bit later, when Billie Jean and Binx unintentionally encounter Hubie and his friends, while they are eating ice cream, Binx’s motor bike is taken. (As an aside: The film was Christian Slater’s first lead role. Furthermore, despite rumors to the contrary, Helen Slater and Christian Slater aren’t related).
The bike is eventually returned to Binx, but it is damaged. In an effort to keep her brother from doing something foolish, Billie Jean talks with Hubie’s father, Mr. Pyatt (Richard Bradford). He is amenable about paying for the damages his son has done to the bike. He asks Billie Jean to follow him upstairs to the room above the store he owns. Once there, he gives her some of the money, and lets her know she can earn the rest by spending time alone with him. Billie Jean isn’t accepting of his offer. A struggle ensues and Mr. Pyatt gets accidentally shot by his own gun which he keeps in the cash register.
Billie Jean and Binx return home, grab some things and go on the run. They are not alone; joining the siblings are Billie Jean’s friend Ophelia (Martha Gehman) and their precocious neighbor Putter, a role acted by Emmy winner Yeardley Smith (The Simpsons).
The teens are being pursued by law enforcement, led by Detective Ringwald, portrayed by Emmy winner Peter Coyote (The Roosevelts: An Intimate History). Putting pressure on Ringwald and his officers to bring a quick resolution to the situation is District Attorney Muldaur played by Oscar nominee Dean Stockwell (Married to the Mob). Since the shooting, Mr. Pyatt has been reaping the financial rewards of Billie Jean’s fugitive fame, while at the same time telling anyone who will listen, that he wants justice.
While on the run, Billie Jean is able to get the truth out to the public about what happened. She is able to do so, thanks to Lloyd, a technical wizard, played by actor turned director Keith Gordon (Homeland). Billie Jean becomes an instant folk hero.
“The Legend of Billie Jean” was directed by Matthew Robbins (Dragonslayer). The film was co-written by Emmy nominee Mark Rosenthal (Roots 2016) and three time Emmy nominee Lawrence Konner (The Sopranos). The first several drafts of the film were written by Oscar nominee Walter Bernstein (The Front), but he is not listed in the credits for the movie. Parts action, and drama, the film has a runtime of 96 minutes. The movie premiered in theaters in July of 1985. The original title of the film was “Fair is Fair,” the line is something that Billie Jean says during the film. “Invincible,” the theme song for the movie was performed by four time Grammy winner Pat Benatar (Love Is A Battlefield).
This film was on HBO five times a week, or so it seemed, when I was a teenager. I saw it a number of times, but hadn’t watched it in a little over a decade. I was reminded of the film a few weeks ago, but as of the writing of this post, when I went to look for it on Amazon Prime and Netflix, neither of them had the film for streaming. I wound up borrowing a DVD copy from a friend. Overall an entertaining film featuring a heroine at the heart of the story that’s easy to cheer for.