The Legend of Billie Jean

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The Legend of Billie Jean
Legend of billie jean.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Matthew Robbins
Produced by Rob Cohen
Written by Lawrence Konner
Mark Rosenthal
Music by Craig Safan
Cinematography Jeffrey L. Kimball
Edited by Cynthia Scheider
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • July 19, 1985 (1985-07-19)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3,099,497 (USA)

The Legend of Billie Jean is a 1985 American drama film, directed by Matthew Robbins.


Billie Jean Davy (Helen Slater), a Corpus Christi, Texas high school girl, rides on a scooter with her younger brother, Binx (Christian Slater) on his Honda Elite. They are followed by a group of teenage boys who admire her beauty. They stop at a drive-in and one of the teens Hubie Pyatt (Barry Tubb) bullies Binx while his sister gets him a milkshake to cool him off in the severe heat. When she returns, Hubie hits on Billie Jean and Binx dumps his milkshake on him before taking off to the lake. At the lake, the siblings swim and play before resting. Binx asks his sister to tell him again about Vermont. She again tells him about the state that is never as hot as theirs and is devoid of alligators. Hubie shows up and takes the scooter while his friend takes pictures of Billie Jean in her bathing suit. At the lake, Hubie takes his revenge, stealing Binx's scooter.

Billie Jean goes to the police with her friends Putter (Yeardley Smith) and Ophelia (Martha Gehman). Detective Ringwald (Peter Coyote) is sympathetic, but urges them to wait the problem out. Binx attempts to retrieve his scooter and returns badly beaten, with his scooter severely damaged. Billie Jean, Binx, and Ophelia go to Mr. Pyatt's shop to get the money ($608.00) to repair the scooter. While initially appearing helpful and understanding, Mr. Pyatt then tells Billie Jean to come upstairs with him to get the money from his safe. He then hands her only a portion of the money with a proposition of a 'Pay as you go, earn as you learn' plan by which he will have sex with her, giving her more money each time. He then attempts to rape her, but she escapes him and runs back downstairs.

Meanwhile, Binx has discovered a gun in the cashier register and is playing with his when his sister returns. Mr. Pyatt tells him the gun is unloaded, so Binx pulls the trigger and a bullet hits Mr Pyatt in the shoulder. The group races away from the shop believing he's seriously injured (possibly dead) and become fugitives. After he is released from the hospital, Mr. Pyatt begins to sell the pictures of Billie Jean.

The group is able to get gas and food due to the help of other teenagers as they run from the authorities. Even after they find out Mr. Pyatt is going to be fine, they encounter people who believe the media (and Mr. Pyatt's lies). They set up an exchange at a mall with Detective Ringwald (who sees through Mr Pyatt's lies) and show up after arranging a plan (leaving IOUs for the items they shoplifted). However, Mr Pyatt and his son have their own plan and ruin everything. Billie Jean and her friends flee, but Binx has stolen a fake gun and uses it to make the detective back off when he catches them in the parking lot.

They soon tire of the car and look for an empty house to hole up in while they decide what to do. What they believe to be an empty mansion belongs to the local district attorney whose disgruntled teenage son Lloyd Muldaur (Keith Gordon) is home alone. As they get to know one another, Lloyd gives her the idea of sending a video tape to the media airing their side since the media has gotten it all wrong, even accusing them of crimes they never committed in cities they've never been. They then watch a movie on Joan of Arc, which gives Billie Jean an idea. She excuses herself to the restroom and emerges in a cut up scuba suit, gloves, one earring and a pixie cut. She then makes a video airing out her grievances, making her demands and claiming Lloyd is a hostage.

Throughout it all, Billie Jean wants only the money to fix her brother's scooter and an apology from Mr. Pyatt. However, Binx likes being seen as an outlaw and is quick to chose committing crimes over doing things the right way. Mr. Pyatt has been busy himself, selling the pictures Binx and his friends took of Billie Jean and making a mint from her image. The group eventually gets separated and thanks to a network of teenagers (who now resemble her) who have made her their idol, they provide Billie Jean transport and assistance in hiding from the police. They even offer to take her to Mexico where the American authorities can not prosecute her, but she insists on finding her brother. After reuniting with Binx, Lloyd and her friends, Billie Jean makes some hard decisions based on their experiences and turns Putter and Ophelia in. When Ringwald arrives, he informs them that it was Billie Jean who called him. They don't believe him at first and when asked where their friend is, Ophelia observantly replies, "Everywhere!"

To end the situation and (more importantly) to get her brother's scooter fixed, Billie Jean calls the detective and arranges to turn herself in. However, she demands that Mr. Pyatt gives her the money. A huge beach party with media is happening at the meeting place and Mr Pyatt is there to make as much money as possible. Everyone is wearing merchandise with her image on it. Putter (now with a haircut like Billie Jean) and Ophelia arrive and when approached by the detective, Ophelia tells him that she believes that Billie Jean is already there. Lloyd's father has sharpshooters at the ready due to the gun that Binx has been seen with. Even though Detective Ringwald tells him he doesn't know that it's real, the DA won't change his mind. To insure that all goes according to plan, both Binx and Billie Jean are in disguises. She is seen walking with Lloyd and the crowd goes crazy. Hubie pushes himself to the front of the crowd and past the police officers who are keeping the crowd back. It is then revealed that it's Binx in a dress with Lloyd and Billie Jean is up on the flatbed holding the scooter under a tarp. She reveals the scooter, so Binx continues to walk closer. Binx then alerts the crowd that it's Binx, not Billie Jean. Binx tells him to be quiet and aims the fake gun at him, causing one of the sharpshooters to take a shot that hits him in the shoulder. Believing that it's Billie Jean, the crowd goes insane and riots.

Unable to reach Binx before he's taken away in the ambulance, Billie Jean walks to Mr. Pyatt's large makeshift store, taking off her wig on the way. People begin to notice her as she approaches and looks at all the items in wonder. She then demands to know who paid to have the scooter fixed. Eventually Lloyd's Dad comes forward and admits that he paid. Upon hearing this Lloyd steps forward, surprised that his father cared that much about him and his safety. Surrounded by onlookers (Hubie included), Mr. Pyatt then goes to his register and takes out money to give to Billie Jean. He tries to force it into her hand, stating that it might be a little more or less than bill was. Incredulous that after all of this time and everything that has happened that he was now willing to give her the money so easily, she then asks him what the money is for. For her to be quiet or for the lessons he offered her at the beginning. He shouts his objections at her to cover her accusations, then grabs her and they scuffle before he falls down. He knocks over a torch and his items start to go up in flames. Billie Jean then throws the money back at him and tells him that she's not for sale. As he demands someone gets him water to put the fire out, people begin to throw their memorabilia into the growing fire. Before running away, she kisses Lloyd.

At the end of the film Billie Jean and a convalescing Binx find themselves in Vermont seeking a fresh start. Binx, after complaining about the cold, admires a red snowmobile.



Kleberg County Courthouse in Kingsville, Texas. Exterior of the police headquarters.
Sunrise Mall in Corpus Christi, Texas. Location of the money handover cheat and subsequent chase.
  • Filming locations included the Sunrise Mall and several locations along South Padre Island Drive.[1]
  • The original title of the film was Fair is Fair.[2]


Used at the beginning of the Sunrise Mall scene where the teenagers left IOUs for the items they "borrowed" from a toyshop.

Underlying track when Binx trying to exchange his "hostage" Lloyd for the repaired scooter at the beach is erroneously hit by a sharpshooter.

Problems playing these files? See media help.

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 Billy Idol's reissue of his single "Rebel Yell" climbed up to number six on the UK Singles Chart in October 1985 after its first unsuccessful release in 1984.


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."[2] 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."[3] The film holds a 44% approval rating on the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 9 reviews, though it currently lacks of consensus summary.[4]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on home video on VHS 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.[5]

Mill Creek Entertainment released a retail version of the DVD, along with a Blu-ray edition on July 22, 2014.[6][7][8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Legend of Billie Jean Filming Locations". Retrieved 2011-10-09. 
  2. ^ a b Jay Boyar (1985-07-25). "'Billy Jean' Is A Pretty Good B-plus". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-10-11. 
  3. ^ Janet Maslin (1985-07-19). "Screen: 'The Legend of Billie Jean' Opens". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  4. ^ "The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  5. ^ Chris Tribbey (2011-11-01). "DVD MOD Site Adds 33 More". Home Media Magazine. Retrieved 2011-11-02. 
  6. ^ Mill Creek Entertainment
  7. ^ Mill Creek Entertainment
  8. ^

External links[edit]