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Posts Tagged ‘Billy Jack’

It’s Not About The Hat – an ode to Billy Jack

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

It looks like the legend of Billy Jack lives on in the West today! I am reminded of my recent discovery of the re-release of this iconic movie and its anti-hero’s hero of an important civil rights movement. Read below.

The 1971 movie, Billy Jack and it’s prequel, Born Losers, will be screened by Cinefamily in Los Angeles on July 2nd. Director, producer, and star, Tom Laughlin will be in attendance.


by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I watched the re-release of Born Losers over the weekend, the 1st of a series of 4 independent films featuring the character of Billy Jack, released between 1971 and 1977. I had seen the better-known three that followed this one the week before – for my full report, go here. It was then I found Born Losers and decided I wanted to complete my viewing experience.

This film is definitely more rough than the sequels, but what can I say? It was still the peaceful but fierce Billy Jack in his full but quiet glory. Despite the dated tone of all the films, I have had Billy Jack on the brain, complete with some intense episodic dreams. This morning, I woke up with this in my head – sort of my “ode to Billy Jack”:

Billy Jack fights quietly and steadily against what is unjust, with just a bit of swagger in his stride and a steely glaze in his eye.

Billy Jack knows when it’s too late, but it doesn’t ever stop him from tilting his hat to the sun and squinting, as if there is something he has missed.

Billy Jack doesn’t need to be liked, loved or revered. Because of this, he is liked, loved and revered.

Billy Jack owns many demons – they are internal warriors who protect rather than torment him.

Billy Jack always, but always, knows exactly what to do.

Billy Jack knows a good fight when he sees one and knows when to turn and walk away (cue swagger).

Terminator meets Billy Jack

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

According to an article in the NY Times, Arnold Schwarzenegger is planning on traveling the world to promote clean energy after his tenure as governor of California. The Republican has dutifully endorsed presidential candidate, John McCain, but when asked whether he would answer a call from Democratic candidate, Senator, Barack Obama, the well-known “Terminator” responded, “I’d take his call now and I’d take his call when he’s president – anytime.”

I can’t help it. I like Arnold, despite his fleet of Hummers (now all hydrogen-powered). I’m drawn to the superhero in him. Perhaps I’m especially moved because I recently watched another former film hero kicking butt for justice when I rented the re-release of the independent movies, Billy Jack and its two sequels, The Trial of Billy Jack and Billy Jack goes to Washington. The movies, originally released in 1971 – 1977, address many social issues of our time – then and now – including prejudice, education, child abuse, violence vs. pacifism and political corruption.

The title character is Billy Jack, a half-breed American Indian who, after dissenting from the Vietnam war, goes back to the reservation where he quietly but forcefully protects the wild Mustangs and the Freedom School, a creatively alternative school for troubled youth of all ages and races. Billy Jack is the imperfect hero, with a deep commitment to ethics and honor who struggles with the shadow of anger he feels towards injustice.

Tom Laughlin, raised the funds, wrote, directed, produced and starred in all three movies. His wife, Delores Taylor, co-produced and played the supporting role of Jean, who runs the Freedom School.

Known then and now as one of the most successful independent filmmakers ever, Laughlin is also an author, psychologist, social/political activist who ran for president as a Democrat in 1992 on a platform which included tax cuts, Universal Healthcare and alternative education. Despite his reputation as a political radical, he received 2% of the vote in the New Hampshire Primary. He ran again as a Republican in 2004 as an opponent of the Iraq was with a “realistic” exit strategy, one of the many topics you can read about on his website at

From movie review by top reviewer, Jan Peregrine, “My appreciation for a husband/wife team that goes to such lengths for us, the public, knows no bounds. Tom Laughlin was a pioneer in Independent filmmaking and a creative dynamo with the guts to say what he saw happening in the United States…we desperately need more people like the Laughlins in the world.”

This excellent review reveals more about the movie series plots, which actually began with the lesser known film, Born Losers, of 1967. Here, we are first introduced to the character of Billy Jack who confronts the abuses of a motorcycle gang.

I’ll be renting that this weekend.

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