Though Easy Rider (1969) cast a long shadow over the first half of American film in the 1970s, its influence has been arguably much shorter lived than that of a film released two years earlier, the 1967 lovers on the lam hit Bonnie and Clyde. One of that latter film’s many progenies is Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw, which became a hit on the drive-in circuit in 1976 for American International Pictures in its final phase during a busy year that also saw them churning out Squirm, Futureworld and The Town That Dreaded Sundown, among others.
Future Wonder Woman TV star Lynda Carter made her feature film debut in this film mere months before her major small-screen breakthrough, cast here as an aspiring country singer who goes on a crime spree across New Mexico with fledgling outlaw Lyle Wheeler. Her co-star in this film is none other than Marjoe Gortner, a former prepubescent celebrity evangelist and subject of the Oscar-winning 1972 documentary Marjoe. Also seen in another successful AIP film that same year, The Food of the Gods, Gortner had become an unlikely pop culture fixture on both the small and big screens, eventually finding his strongest dramatic vehicle soon after in When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? (1979).
The rest of the cast is studded with familiar character actors including, third-billed Jesse Vint, who had appeared opposite Gortner in Earthquake (1974) and headlined the drive-in smash Macon County Line (1974); Merrie Lynn Ross (star of 1973’s outrageous Schoolgirls in Chains); Joe Dante regular Belinda Balaski, longtime Hollywood veteran and frequent TV guest star Peggy Stewart; the busy and always colorful Gerrit Graham hot off of Phantom of the Paradise (1974); and Virgil Frye, a frequent crossover performer in mainstream and exploitation fare who also turned up in the same year’s The Missouri Breaks. Eagle-eyed horror fans should also keep their eyes on one of the deputies in this film played by future director Chuck Russell, who would go on to helm The Mask (1994), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and the remake of The Blob (1988).
This film was the fifth directorial feature for young Mark L. Lester (no relation to the juvenile star of Oliver!, 1968), who would follow this with the cable TV perennial Roller Boogie (1979) and earn a name in the ‘80s cinema pantheon with films like Class of 1984 (1982), Firestarter (1984) and particularly Commando (1985). He continues to be involved in action and monster movies to this day, with his name popping up on more than a few SyFy Channel productions.
Both Gortner and Carter have also enjoyed music careers and would release albums of their own, with Gortner first out of the gate with Bad, but Not Evil in 1972 featuring the idiosyncratic single, “Hoe-Bus.” That same year, Carter took the title of Miss World USA which led to the release of a 45 single in 1973, “It Might as Well Stay Monday.” The success of Wonder Woman led to the swift release of her first full album in 1978, Portrait, a collection of pop-country tunes. In this film she even gets to strum the guitar and croon a song to Gortner, “Are You Lonely Like Me,” which has never had a commercial release. That song was penned by country music multitasker J.C. Crowley, a co-founder of the band Player and writer of such songs as “Baby Come Back.” The actual twangy score for the film was handiwork of Barry De Vorzon, a young songwriter and music producer at the time who had scored a success with Bless the Beasts & Children (1971) as well as a very underrated accompaniment for Walter Hill’s Hard Times (1975). He would later go on to his biggest mainstream success in the film and TV world with “Nadia’s Theme” from The Young and the Restless and the popular soundtrack to Hill’s The Warriors (1979).