“Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw” (1976)
When bored carhop Bobbie Jo Baker (Lynda Carter) asks charmless drifter Lyle Wheeler (Marjoe Gortner) who his hero is, the answer should be the more accurate “Clyde Barrow” rather than the asserted “Billy the Kid” as the violent trajectory to be taken by these two characters will be unmistakable to anyone who has seen Arthur Penn’s landmark 1967 film, though now admittedly executed on a lesser scale both in style and substance.
Mark L. Lester’s “Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw” purports to tell the story of a couple doomed in an inescapable spiral of crime, yet the film is embarrassingly short on the essential narrative element of character motivation. The only reason for Bobbie Jo and Lyle’s descension into truly meaningless lawlessness is that the film needs an excuse to fill its paltry 88 minutes with badly staged car chases and shootouts once it has already exhausted the audience’s patience with a numbing succession of music interludes shamelessly inserted to kill time while invaluable expository dialogue is drowned out by a soundtrack promoting irrelevant country western crooning; though, perhaps, on the basis of the decipherable dialogue by Vernon Zimmerman, Lester’s conciliation toward obscurity is more along the lines of a public service. Surely, the standards demanded of a literate American culture need no further dumbing down by yet another drive-in feature with no ambition, no originality and no reason to exist.
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