Ode to Billy Joe is a superbly sensitive period romantic tragedy, based on Bobbie Gentry’s 1967 hit song lyric. Robby Benson is excellent as Billy Joe McAllister, and Glynnis O’Connor is outstanding as his Juliet.
The time is 1953. O’Connor and Benson are both emerging into fumbling sexual awareness, written and acted in a way to bring out all of the humor, heart and horniness that attends on such matters. O’Connor’s parents, sensationally played by Sandy McPeak and Joan Hotchkis, have a wary but loving eye out for her.
The puppy love affair unfolds smoothly as it is interwoven with family, church, work and community functions, all of which establish the people as real, loving folk and create a magnificent dramatic environment.