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The Legend of Billie Jean

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The Legend of Billie Jean
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatthew Robbins
Written by
Produced byRob Cohen
CinematographyJeffrey L. Kimball
Edited byCynthia Scheider
Music byCraig Safan
  • Delphi III Productions
  • The Guber-Peters Company
Distributed byTri-Star Pictures
Release date
  • July 19, 1985 (1985-07-19)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.1 million (US)[2]

The Legend of Billie Jean is a 1985 American action drama film directed by Matthew Robbins. It stars Helen Slater, Keith Gordon, Christian Slater, Dean Stockwell, Richard Bradford, Peter Coyote, and Martha Gehman.

The plot follows Billie Jean Davy, a teenager from Texas, and her brother Binx, who become fugitives after a confrontation with a local bully turns violent. Billie Jean demands justice and becomes an icon for teens, leading to a standoff with the authorities.



Billie Jean Davy, a teenager from Corpus Christi, Texas, is riding with her younger brother, Binx, on his Honda Elite scooter to a local lake to go swimming. Stopping for a milkshake at a local convenience store, they have to deal with Hubie Pyatt, a rowdy local teen, and his friends hitting on Billie Jean, but Binx humiliates Hubie by throwing a milkshake in his face. Later at the lake, as Billie Jean tells Binx about the weather in Vermont (a place he wants to visit), Hubie steals Binx's scooter.

As Binx goes to retrieve his scooter later that night, Billie Jean goes to the authorities with her friends Putter and Ophelia. They report the theft to Detective Ringwald, who is sympathetic but urges them to wait and see if matters resolve. When Billie Jean returns home, she finds Binx beaten and his scooter severely damaged. The next day, Billie Jean, Binx, and Ophelia go to Mr. Pyatt's shop and learn that repairing the scooter will cost $608. While initially appearing helpful and understanding, Pyatt propositions Billie Jean and then attempts to rape her. Meanwhile, Binx and Ophelia enter the store to check on Billie Jean when Binx finds a gun in the shop's cash register while looking for the money to fix his scooter. Billie Jean flees from the back of the store, clearly distressed. Binx aims the weapon at Pyatt, who tells him the gun is unloaded, but Binx fires it, wounding Pyatt in the shoulder. The siblings and Ophelia race away from the shop and become fugitives, along with Putter, who comes with them.

By the time Ringwald realizes that he made a mistake not listening to Billie Jean, the situation has escalated out of control. Billie Jean wants only the cash to fix her brother's scooter and an apology from Pyatt. With help from Lloyd Muldaur, the teenage son of the district attorney, who voluntarily becomes her "hostage", Billie Jean makes a video of her demands, featuring herself with her long, blonde hair chopped into a crew cut, inspired after watching a movie about Joan of Arc on TV (the 1957 film Saint Joan). She dons a revolutionary-style wardrobe including combat boots, fatigues, and a wetsuit top with the sleeves torn off. As media coverage increases, Billie Jean becomes a teen icon, and young fans follow her every movement. Facing uncertain dangers, both physical and legal, Billie Jean is forced to turn in her friends Putter and Ophelia to the cops for their safety. Ringwald arrives at the abandoned miniature golf course where the group has taken refuge. He demands to know where Billie Jean is, and Ophelia defiantly replies, "Everywhere!"

Pyatt issues a bounty for her apprehension, but Ringwald counters with a more peaceful offer and a promise to repair Binx's scooter. Billie Jean realizes the best plan is to turn herself in. During a rally being held, where a brand new scooter is offered for Billie Jean to turn in herself and Lloyd, Binx puts on a dress and pretends to be Billie Jean, walking behind Lloyd. However, Hubie proclaims the masquerade, and the police shoot Binx.

Billie Jean runs to catch the ambulance taking Binx away, but she is unsuccessful. She sees a booth with Billie Jean merchandise, run by Pyatt. She confronts Pyatt and gets him to admit the actions that led to him being shot. He gives Billie Jean the money, but she refuses to take it all and rams her knee into his crotch, sending him sprawling to the ground and knocking over a nearby torch. She tells him to keep his money and to go buy somebody else, throwing the money back in his face. Pyatt gets to his feet as the overturned torch begins to set his merchandise stands on fire. The onlookers (including Hubie), seeing how Billie Jean was exploited and their indirect involvement in it, throw all the Billie Jean merchandise into the rapidly growing fire and leave in disgust. As the merchandise burns, Billie Jean departs as well, but not before thanking Ringwald and giving Lloyd a kiss. Later, Billie Jean and Binx (in an arm sling) are hitchhiking in Vermont. Binx, after complaining about the cold, admires a red snowmobile.




Kleberg County Courthouse in Kingsville, Texas (2008). Exterior of the police headquarters.
Sunrise Mall in Corpus Christi, Texas (2009). Location of the money handover cheat and subsequent chase.



Craig Safan produced the original score for the film writing a couple of synthpop-styled instrumental tracks. Furthermore, some rock songs were added to the soundtrack which had never been officially released. The movie's theme song "Invincible" by Pat Benatar peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1985, while the reissue of Billy Idol's single "Rebel Yell" climbed up to number six on the UK Singles Chart in October 1985.



Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel stated that the film "has quite a lot going for it" and "doesn't get many points for finesse, but it has energy, good performances and more wit than you'd expect." He added, "One reason that sections of the movie are effective is that Helen Slater has enough style and presence to be believable as a young woman who is taken for a modern Joan of Arc. As Billie Jean, she's got the clear eyes of a dreamer and the toughness of a winner."[4] Janet Maslin of The New York Times said that the film is "competently made, sometimes attractively acted (particularly by Peter Coyote)... and bankrupt beyond belief. It's hard to imagine that even the film makers, let alone audiences, can believe in a sweet, selfless heroine who just can't help becoming a superstar."[5]

The film holds a 39% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 38 reviews with the following consensus: "Rebellious in spirit and anarchic in style, this Helen Slater–starring vehicle holds a certain youthful cool but is otherwise a disjointed retelling of an oft-repeated legend.".[6]

Home media


The film was released on Betamax and VHS home video in 1985.

In 2009, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released in Europe a Spanish-titled DVD La Leyenda de Billie Jean, with 4:3 open matte image, but without any bonus material. A remastered NTSC DVD including commentary by Helen Slater and Yeardley Smith was released on November 1, 2011, via their manufactured on demand service.[7]

Mill Creek Entertainment released a retail version of the DVD, along with a Blu-ray edition on July 22, 2014.[8][9][10]

See also



  1. ^ "Screen: 'The Legend of Billie Jean' Opens". The New York Times. 1985-07-19. Retrieved 2022-02-09.
  2. ^ The Legend of Billie Jean at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "The Legend of Billie Jean Filming Locations". Fast-Rewind.com. Retrieved 2011-10-09.
  4. ^ a b Jay Boyar (1985-07-25). "'Billy Jean' Is A Pretty Good B-plus". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
  5. ^ Janet Maslin (1985-07-19). "Screen: 'The Legend of Billie Jean' Opens". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
  6. ^ "The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved: November 17, 2023.
  7. ^ Chris Tribbey (2011-11-01). "DVD MOD Site Adds 33 More". Home Media Magazine. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  8. ^ "Mill Creek Entertainment: The Legend of Billie Jean - "Fair Is Fair" DVD Edition". www.millcreekent.com.
  9. ^ "Mill Creek Entertainment: The Legend of Billie Jean - 'Fair Is Fair' Edition - BD". www.millcreekent.com.
  10. ^ "Legend of Billie Jean - Fair Is Fair Edition - Blu-ray". 22 July 2014.