The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)

Thirty-seven years ago today, the film The Legend of Billie Jean premiered. This mid-80s movie has a great cast, a great soundtrack, the classic underdog-fights-back plot, and a Honda Elite Scooter that plays such a prominent roll, it should be listed as a cast member. You have to see this movie.

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Title: The Legend Billie Jean
Directed by: Matthew Robbins
Produced by: Rob Cohen
Written by: Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal
Starring: Helen Slater, Keith Gordon, Christian Slater, Peter Coyote, Yeardley Smith
Music by: Craig Safan
Cinematography: Jeffrey L. Kimball
Edited by: Cynthia Scheider
Production company: Delphi III Productions, The Guber-Peters Company
Distributed by: TriStar Pictures
Release date: July 19, 1985
Running time: 96 minutes
Box office: $3.1 million

Billie Jean Davy, a teenager in Corpus Christi, Texas, rides with her younger brother, Binx on his Honda Elite Scooter to a local lake to go swimming. At a drive-in, Hubie Pyatt, a rowdy local teen, and his friends hit on Billie Jean, but Binx humiliates him by throwing a milkshake in his face. Later on at the lake, as Billie Jean tells Binx about the weather in Vermont, a place he has always wanted 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. Detective Ringwald is sympathetic but urges them to wait the problem out. 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 to get the amount of $608 to repair the scooter. While initially appearing helpful and understanding, Mr. Pyatt propositions Billie Jean and then attempts to rape her.

Meanwhile, Binx has found a gun, and when Billie Jean flees from the back of the store, clearly distressed, he turns it on Mr. Pyatt. Mr. Pyatt tells him the gun is unloaded, but Binx fires it, wounding Mr. Pyatt in the shoulder. They race away from the shop and become fugitives.

By the time Ringwald realizes that he made a mistake not listening to Billie Jean, the situation is spinning out of control. Billie Jean wants only the cash to fix her brother’s scooter and an apology from Mr. 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. 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 her friends Putter and Ophelia in to the cops for their safety. When Ringwald arrives and demands to know where Billie Jean is, Ophelia defiantly replies, “Everywhere!”

Mr. Pyatt issues a bounty for her apprehension, and Billie Jean realizes the best plan is to turn herself in. To avoid attracting too much attention, she and her brother Binx both arrive in disguise. But the disguise is blown, and the situation descends into a riot, which results in Binx getting shot. As Binx is taken away in an ambulance, Billie Jean confronts Mr. Pyatt and gets him to admit his 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 then tells him to keep his money and to go buy somebody else, throwing the money back in his face. Mr. 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 stands burn down, Billie Jean departs as well, but not before thanking Ringwald and giving Floyd 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.

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