The Legend of Billie Jean is a 1985 American drama film directed by Matthew Robbins, starring Helen Slater in the lead title role.
Originally, the film was given a "R" rating from the MPAA due to language, but it was later reduced on appeal to a "PG-13" rating.
One day, Texas teenager Billie Jean Davy (Helen Slater) rides with her brother Binx (Christian Slater) on a Honda Elite for a day at the local lake when a group of teenage boys, led by Hubie Pyatt (Barry Tubb) harass them and later steal Binx's scooter after Binx humiliates him.
Billie Jean goes to the police with her friends Ophelia (Martha Gehman) & Putter (Yeardley Smith) to report the stolen scooter, but the police detective, Detective Ringwald (Peter Coyote) doesn't take the complaint seriously. Binx attempts to get his scooter back himself, but comes home beaten and his scooter damaged.
Billie Jean, Binx and Ophelia visit Hubie's father, Mr. Pyatt (Richard Bradford)'s shop to get $608.00 to repair Binx's scooter. Mr. Pyatt attempts to sexually assault Billie Jean, but Binx taunts Mr. Pyatt with a gun and accidently fires it which hits Mr. Pyatt in the shoulder.
The three of them run away from the scene and become fugitives.
By the time Detective Ringwald realizes that he made a mistake in not listening to Billie Jean, the situation is spinning out of control. Throughout it all, Billie Jean wants only the $608 to fix her brother's scooter and an apology from Mr. Pyatt.
With help from Lloyd Muldaur (Keith Gordon), the disgruntled teenage son of the district attorney, who voluntarily becomes her "hostage", Billie Jean makes a video of her demands, featuring herself cutting off her long, blond hair into a crew cut as a sign of her rebellion.
As the media coverage increases, Billie Jean becomes a teen icon and young fans start looking up to her. Facing uncertain dangers (both physical and legal), Billie Jean is forced to turn in Putter and Ophelia in to the police for their safety.
When Mr. Pyatt issues a bounty for apprehending Billie Jean, she decides to turn herself into the police. In order to avoid unwanted attention, she and Binx arrive in the disguise. When the disguise fails, things escalate into an violent 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 in his store. The onlookers (including Hubie), see how Billie Jean was exploited and destroy all of the Billie Jean merchandise and leave in disgust.
At the end of the film, Billie Jean and Binx find themselves far up in Vermont, looking for a new start.
- Helen Slater as Billie Jean Davy
- Christian Slater as Binx Davy
- Keith Gordon as Lloyd Muldaur
- Yeardley Smith as Putter
- Barry Tubb as Hubie Pyatt
- Martha Gehman as Ophelia
- Peter Coyote as Detective Larry Ringwald
- Richard Bradford as Mr. Pyatt
- Dean Stockwell as District Attorney Muldaur
- Mona Lee Fultz as Donna Davy
- Bobby Jones as Kenny
- John M. Jackson as Kenny's Father
- Rodney Rincon as Police Sergeant
- Caroline Williams as Woman in Pickup
- Rudy Young as Man in Pickup
- Bobby Fite as Mini-Mart Boy
- Kim Valentine as Mini-Mart Girl
- Cindy Haag as Girl in Camaro
- Janet Smalley as Putter's Mother
- Charles Redd as News Announcer
- Joshua Butts as Tape Delivery Boy
- Ray Hanna as Jimmy J. Judge
- Kit Sullivan as Deputy Sheriff
- B.J. Thompson as Interview Boy
- Celia Newman as Interview Girl
- Tony Slowik as Interview Teen
- Gary Small as Interview Short
The majority of the filming for "The Legend of Billie Jean" was filmed in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The scenes where Billie Jean and Binx are in Vermont were actually filmed in Colorado in Copper Mountain and Curtain Ponds. Other filming locations included the Sunrise Mall and several locations along South Padre Island Drive in Texas.
This was the first lead role for Christian Slater, who was 15 years at the time he starred in the film.
Yeardley Smith (who portrayed the role of Putter) was 20 years old when she was cast in the film. Because her character was 14 years old in the film, her breasts had to be strapped down with an Ace Bandage to make herself look younger. She also had to wear a wig after her character cuts her hair short.
After the film's principal shooting had ended, Helen Slater had to wear a wig in several scenes.
"The Legend of Billie Jean" debuted at #14 at the box office, grossing $1,466,884 during its opening weekend. Domestically, the film grossed $3,099,497.
"The Legend of Billie Jean" received a 44% rating based on 9 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
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 also 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."
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."