The Legend of Billie Jean Coming to DVD!
September 22, 2011

A kitsch favorite movie of mine is The Legend of Billie Jean, a 1985 teen flick staring Helen Slater (Supergirl) and Christian Slater (no relation, although they play brother and sister). I was surprised to note that it’s not available on DVD, since it’s not a bad little movie, exploring adolescent rebellion (with a good cause), class distinction, and the media manipulation of blonde girls in the news to make a buck.

The Legend of Billie Jean poster

The plot starts out simple: Slater kids are poor but honest. Boy Slater has a motorbike that he loves. Rich spoiled kids trash his bike. Boy goes to get the money he needs to fix it from rich kid’s father, who’s a slime and tries to rape girl Slater. A gun is involved (poor choice), which sends the kids on the run when rich father tries to have them arrested. Wow, that got more complicated to sum up than I thought when it comes to the “crime”.

Now, there are several elements to this film that might have made it, um, less than a success. It’s got a girl lead who is more powerful than sexy, and she tells off the various men in her life that fail her. It’s low-budget and has not many exciting visual sequences. It actually has something to say about society, and it’s not always flattering, but those are the bits that stick in your head.

Another favorite part of mine was Keith Gordon (Back to School) as another rich kid, this one left alone by uncaring parents who think property is a substitute for love. He helps them out with his video camera (high-tech for the 80s) to get their message out there. Peter Coyote is a sympathetic cop, while a young Yeardley Smith is a friend of the kids. The Pat Benatar song “Invincible” was the movie’s theme.

I’ve always enjoyed watching The Legend of Billie Jean, so I’m thrilled to see that it’s coming on DVD as a made-on-demand disc from Sony (which is distributed by Warner Archive). This Amazon listing has it available as of November 15. According to someone on IMDB, Yeardley Smith said she recorded a commentary for the film in 2008 — most MOD DVDs don’t have extras, but that would be extra-nifty if someone dug that up and included it.

Update: (11/1/11) The movie is now available for order, and it DOES have a commentary!

6 Responses  
Troy writes:  

The first movie I was ever in! Was only a kid, barely 15 but “Billie Jean can stay and watch me surf”! :-) Actually shot in a parking lot in Culver City….

Johanna writes:  

OMG! I feel special just having you at my site. :)

CanadaComics writes:  

Fair is fair! ;)

~chris writes:  

26 years (!) later and I still swoon over Helen Slater’s haircut. :-)

I got to meet her at WonderCon last year; I asked if she liked or disliked the haircut. She said she LOVED it.

Jim Kosmicki writes:  

this was a good little movie. unfortunately, the Sony Classics part of the Warner Archive are usually not included in their sales, but this will go on my short list for eventual purchase there.

I had forgotten that Keith Gordon was in this movie. He had a great run as a director of literary adaptations in the 90’s with Midnight Clear, the Chocolate War and Mother Night. Unfortunately none of them made any money, so he now mainly directs TV shows. All three of those adaptations are well worth watching, however, especially A Midnight Clear.

Johanna writes:  

My favorite of the movies he directed is the Singing Detective remake with Robert Downey Jr., but I know that’s a bit controversial. I’ll have to look out for those others.


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