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1980s action movie ‘The Legend of Billie Jean’ a Corpus Christi cult hit with Christian Slater, Helen Slater

“The Legend of Billie Jean,” a 1985 action film for the teen MTV group, almost certainly won’t impress Tarantino admirers. Two folks get shot, but no one particular dies. A couple of men get kneed in the groin — one 2 times — and no just one is really in any kind of hazard for most of the movie.

The stakes are low, much too: Just more than $600, the price of repairs to a Honda Elite scooter. Very seriously. Which is the movie’s setup.

But considered as a tour of Corpus Christi with a pair of ridiculously photogenic siblings, the movie has its charms. Helen Slater, hot on the heels of her debut in “Supergirl,” and a bleach-blonde, 15-calendar year-outdated Christian Slater, in his to start with attribute, engage in brother and sister Billy Jean and Binx Each day. (No, the actors are not similar. Yes, Helen has been fielding concerns about Christian at any time considering the fact that.)

A dispute with a community bully who busts up that scooter, as nicely as Binx’s encounter, sets this outlaw tale in motion. Billie Jean asks the bully’s father, a sleazy surf store proprietor, to shell out the $608 restore monthly bill. He receives handsy with her, then he gets shot. (It is an incident.)

Fearing the police will imagine the businessman more than trailer-park youngsters, Billie Jean and Binx go on the run with a pair of mates. The teens are vilified by the media — the taking pictures is a entrance-website page story in the Nueces County Push, and before long crimes from Galveston to Laredo are attributed to them. But they make allies, too, such as Lloyd (Keith Gordon), an eccentric abundant child who can help them in their combat for real truth, justice and scooter repairs.

Wherever to see it: Readily available to hire on Amazon Key and other digital platforms.


Motivated by a probability viewing of the Joan of Arc drama “Saint Joan,” Billy Jean chops off her hair a la Jean Seberg, the movie’s star, then tells her facet of the story in a videotape sent to the law enforcement and the push. Pretty much promptly, and without having at any time location foot outside Corpus Christi, she results in being a folk hero. Youngsters are shopping for Billie Jean merch, ladies are having their hair cropped in her honor, and everyone’s repeating her authentic, if not tremendous inspiring, rallying cry, “Fair is fair.”

Yeardley Smith, who performs Billie Jean’s younger mate Putter, compared the motion picture to a 1950s teenager melodrama dressed up with ’80s fashions and new music. Which is fair.

But way right before smartphones and social media, Billie Jean’s instantaneous celeb need to have baffled moviegoers, if they believed about it at all.

1 who did was New York Instances critic Janet Maslin. “It’s challenging to picture that even the filmmakers, let by yourself audiences, can consider in a sweet, selfless heroine who just can’t support getting to be a celebrity,” she wrote in her assessment.

At present, Billie Jean would be taken in stride as 1 far more influencer.

From an early confrontation at a Sonic Push-In to a climactic conflagration on the beach front, the complete movie was shot on place in and all around Corpus Christi, and it helps make the most of the city’s gritty beach front town vibe. Critical places incorporated: The Dockside Surf Shop, which is continue to open up for organization and served as the scene of the crime Dawn Shopping mall (named Ocean Park Mall in the movie), the web site of a massive chase scene and an off-responsibility hangout for the movie’s young cast and an upscale household on Ocean Drive, where by Billie Jean fulfilled Lloyd.

The place scouts’ greatest discover was an abandoned miniature golf training course known as the Candy Shack on North Seaside in the shadow of the Harbor Bridge, which the gang utilized as a hideout. It is hard to picture a crew creating some thing so beautifully decrepit from scratch.

“Invincible,” Pat Benatar’s difficult-driving concept music for “The Legend of Billie Jean,” was a big strike. The movie did not fare so perfectly. It opened out of the Leading 10 on the weekend of July 19-21, 1985, which was dominated by “Back to the Future” and a re-launch of “E.T.”

“I truly assumed this film was going to make me a big star, and it was barely out extended sufficient to roll the conclude credits,” Smith mentioned in the commentary for the 25th anniversary Blu-ray release of the film. (Her fortunes enhanced a few of several years later when she obtained employed as the voice of Lisa on “The Simpsons.”)

The film ultimately took up home on late-evening cable, the place Billie Jean’s adhering to grew. Each Helen Slater and Smith say it is the movie that will come up most in conversations with their supporters.

So simply call it a cult hit. Fair is good.

[email protected] | Twitter: @en_salife

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