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View Diary: One Tin Soldier...Tom Laughlin (Billy Jack) died (59 comments)

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  •  I had a massive crush (8+ / 0-)

    on the actress who played, I probably should say her character, the damsel in distress in "The Born Losers" as a teen. The character was like a character from an 80's or 90's film. She was smart. Edgy. Independent. Defiant. I couldn't believe the film was from the late sixties. It was only when I got older that I realized that Laughlin not only wrote and directed the film, he created a blueprint. It was a low-budget B movie, but it was way way ahead of its time. Flawed, but all of Tom Laughlin's films were flawed in some way. I imagine that a modern film editor might have cut out a lot of issues based themes that were injected into the story. But they wouldn't be the same films without them. Basically Tom Laughlin created the blueprint for the 1980's and onward action-adventure film in a way, and I think one reason why that might get overlooked are the excesses and politics that others might excise for time or streamlining the story.

    When Steven Segal's godawful "On Deadly Ground" came out in the 1990's, I realized watching the film that Segal must have seen "Billy Jack" and said to himself "I want one of those on my resume". It's then when you realize that what Laughlin did with his Billy Jack films is a lot harder than it looks or might seem.


    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 09:36:58 PM PST

    •  Roger Ebert's 1971 review of "Billy Jack (8+ / 0-)
      In "Born Losers" an outlaw motorcycle gang terrorizes a community and its sheriff's office. When they brutally beat a teenager, Billy Jack steps in and shoots one of them. He gets ninety days. The gang members get a slap on the wrist for assault. But when he gets out of jail he finds the police powerless and the community terrified. So, because he feels he must, he fights them again, using karate, gasoline, Indian tricks, and his rifle.

      In "Billy Jack," the same character has become more mythic and supernatural. "We don't know how to contact Billy Jack," one of his friends says. "We communicate with him Indian-style; when we need him, somehow he's there." And indeed he is, riding his horse or motorcycle out of the woods, an almost supernatural presence. This time the town is terrorized, not by a bike gang, but by a brutal local businessman and his half-crazy sadomasochistic son. With the exception of the sheriff himself, who has good intentions but is ineffectual, the local law officers are on the side of evil against good.

      I'm also somewhat disturbed by the central theme of the movie. "Billy Jack" seems to be saying the same thing as "Born Losers," that a gun is better than a constitution in the enforcement of justice. Is democracy totally obsolete, then? Is our only hope that the good fascists defeat the bad fascists? Laughlin and Taylor are still asking themselves these questions, and "Billy Jack" arrives at a conclusion that is only slightly more encouraging.
      Billy Jack Film Review - Standout Quote 'Is Democracy Totally Obsolete, Then? Is Our Only Hope That The Good Fascists Defeat the Bad Fascists?'

      I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      by LeftHandedMan on Sun Dec 15, 2013 at 09:44:58 PM PST

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