Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

BUSTER AND BILLIE

Jan-Michael Vincent
BUSTER AND BILLIE (1974). Director: Daniel Petrie.

In 1948 Georgia, handsome and popular teen Buster Lane (Jan-Michael Vincent) is engaged to one of the high school's prettiest gals, Margie (Pamela Sue Martin). Margie, however, won't "put out," so Buster decides to try a date with the town tramp, a shy young lady named Billie Jo (Joan Goodfellow). Although Buster's primary interest in the girl is sex, he develops tender feelings for her, breaking off his engagement and defying the town's attitude towards this gal of easy virtue. Unfortunately, the two are headed down a tragic path ...

Joan Goodfellow
I really wanted to love this ill-fated romance, which I haven't seen since it was released in '74, but it just isn't as convincing as it needs to be. Vincent offers a very good performance, showing the sensitive man inside the brash youth, but Goodfellow is weak, and the script doesn't help to develop her character so that we can really care about what happens to her. Buster's switch from Margie to Billie Jo happens so abruptly that you might wonder how the man who cares for Billie Jo despite everyone's opinions of her can be the same man who so suddenly, almost cruelly, breaks things off with his fiancee. Most of the supporting characters in the film are fairly shadowy. One of the more interesting characters, Buster's friend "Whitey," is well-played by Robert Englund of Freddy Krueger fame. There's some nice music by Al De Lory.

Verdict: Lots of possibilities in this, but it never really catches fire. **1/2. 

2 comments:

angelman66 said...

Agreed, this one kind of bored me when I saw it years ago, even though Jan Michael Vincent was one of the handsomest men to ever grace the screen. Not a lot of charisma, though--just saw him in a movie with Burt Reynolds where they played stunt men (Hooper 1978) and was equally unimpressed with Vincent's ability to command focus...
-Chris

William said...

Interesting analysis -- you think it was his good looks that put him over but that he had little presence. In this movie he seemed charismatic enough, but he was the main character even more than the young lady. I think as he got older he developed that kind of blase macho exterior that didn't make for riveting performances.