Billy Jack

Billy Jack is a 1971 action/drama independent film, the second of four films centering on a character of the same name which began with the movie The Born Losers (1967), played by Tom Laughlin, who directed and co-wrote the script. Filming began in Prescott, Arizona, in the fall of 1969, but the movie was not completed until 1971. American International Pictures pulled out, halting filming. 20th Century-Fox came forward and filming eventually resumed but when that studio refused to distribute the film, Warner Bros. stepped forward.

Still, the film lacked distribution, so Laughlin booked it into theaters himself in 1971.[1] The film grossed $10 million in its initial run, but eventually added close to $50 million in its re-release,[2] with distribution supervised by Laughlin.

Billy Jack
Billy Jack poster
Theatrical release poster.
Directed byTom Laughlin
as T.C. Frank
Produced byTom Laughlin
as Mary Rose Solti
Written byTom Laughlin
(as Frank Christina)
Delores Taylor
(as Theresa Christina)
StarringTom Laughlin
Delores Taylor
Music byMundell Lowe, Dennis Lambert, Brian Potter
CinematographyFred Koenekamp
John M. Stephens
Edited byLarry Heath
Marion Rothman
National Student Film Corporation
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • May 1, 1971
Running time
114 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$32.5 million (rentals)[1]


Billy Jack is a "half-breed" American Navajo Indian,[3] a Green Beret Vietnam War veteran, and a hapkido master.

Jack defends the hippie-themed Freedom School (inspired by Prescott College) and students from townspeople who do not understand or like the counterculture students. The school is organized by its director Jean Roberts (Delores Taylor).

A group of children of various races from the school go to town for ice cream and are refused service and then abused and humiliated by Bernard Posner (David Roya), the son of the county's corrupt political boss (Bert Freed), and his gang. This prompts a violent outburst by Billy. Later, Jean is raped by Bernard, who also murders an Indian student. Billy confronts Bernard, whom he catches in bed with a 13-year-old girl, and sustains a gunshot wound before killing him with a hand strike to the throat. After a climactic shootout with the police and pleading with Jean, Billy Jack surrenders to the authorities in exchange for a decade-long guarantee that the school will be allowed to continue to run with Jean as its head. As Billy is driven away in handcuffs, a large crowd of supporters raise their fists as a show of defiance and support.


  • Tom Laughlin as Billy Jack
  • Delores Taylor as Jean Roberts
  • Clark Howat as Sheriff Cole
  • Victor Izay as Doctor
  • Julie Webb as Barbara
  • Debbie Schock as Kit
  • Teresa Kelly as Carol
  • Lynn Baker as Sarah
  • Stan Rice as Martin
  • David Roya as Bernard Posner
  • John McClure as Dinosaur
  • Susan Foster as Cindy
  • Susan Sosa as Sunshine
  • Bert Freed as Mr. Stuart Posner
  • Kenneth Tobey as Deputy Mike
  • Howard Hesseman as Howard (credited as Don Sturdy)
  • Cisse Cameron as Miss False Eyelashes (credited as Cissie Colpitts)

Box-office and critical reception

Billy Jack holds a "Fresh" rating of 60% at Rotten Tomatoes based on 15 reviews, with an average grade of 5.4 out of 10.[4]

In his Movie and Video Guide, film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film 1.5 stars out of 4, writing: "Seen today, its politics are highly questionable, and its 'message' of peace looks ridiculous, considering the amount of violence in the film."[5] Roger Ebert gave the film 2.5 stars out of 4 and also saw the message of the film as self-contradictory, writing: "I'm also somewhat disturbed by the central theme of the movie. 'Billy Jack' seems to be saying the same thing as 'Born Losers,' that a gun is better than a constitution in the enforcement of justice."[6] Howard Thompson of The New York Times agreed, calling the film "well-aimed but misguided" as he wrote, "For a picture that preaches pacifism, 'Billy Jack' seems fascinated by its violence, of which it is full." His review added that "some of the non-professional delivery of lines in the script by Mr. Frank and Teresa Christina is incredibly awful."[7] Variety opined that "the action frequently drags" and at nearly two hours' running length, "The message is rammed down the spectators' throats and is sorely in need of considerable editing to tell a straightforward story."[8] Gene Siskel gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4, calling it "a film that tries to say too many things in too many ways within an adequate story line, but it has such freshness, original humor and compassion that one is frequently moved to genuine emotion."[9] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times also liked the film, praising its "searing tension that sustains it through careening unevenness to a smash finish. Crude and sensational yet urgent and pertinent, this provocative Warners release is in its unique, awkward way one of the year's important pictures."[10] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post panned the film as "horrendously self-righteous and devious," explaining, "Every social issue is dramatized in terms of absolute, apolitical good and evil. The good guys ... are next to angelic, while the bad guys are, according to the needs of the moment, utter buffoons or utter devils. Anyone with the slightest trace of skepticism or sophistication would tend to reject the movie out of hand and with good reason, since this kind of simplification is dramatically and socially deceitful."[11] David Wilson of The Monthly Film Bulletin wrote, "If in the end Billy Jack is as much a sell-out as any glossier version of commercialised iconoclasm (Billy Jack is persuaded to accept guarantees which a hundred years of Indian history have repudiated), there is enough innocent sincerity in the film to demonstrate that Tom Laughlin at least has the courage of his convictions, even if those convictions are scarcely thought out."[12]

Delores Taylor received a Golden Globe nomination as Most Promising Newcoming Actress. Tom Laughlin won the grand prize for the film at the 1971 Taormina International Film Festival in Italy.


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


Billy Jack
Soundtrack album by
GenreFilm score
LabelWarner Bros.
WS 1926
ProducerMundell Lowe
Mundell Lowe chronology
Satan in High Heels
Billy Jack
California Guitar

The film score was composed, arranged and conducted by Mundell Lowe and the soundtrack album was originally released on the Warner Bros. label.[14]


The Allmusic review states "a strange and striking combination of styles that somehow is effective... a listenable disc whose flaws only add to the warmth".[15] The film's theme song, a re-recording of "One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)" by Jinx Dawson with session musicians providing the backing, and credited to the band Coven, became a Top 40 hit in 1971.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3.5/5 stars[15]

Track listing

All compositions by Mundell Lowe, except as indicated.

  1. "One Tin Soldier" (Dennis Lambert, Brian Potter) – 3:18
  2. "Hello Billy Jack" – 0:45
  3. "Old and the New" – 1:00
  4. "Johnnie" (Teresa Kelly) – 2:35
  5. "Look, Look to the Mountain" (Kelly) – 1:40
  6. "When Will Billy Love Me" (Lynn Baker) – 3:24
  7. "Freedom Over Me" (Gwen Smith) – 0:35
  8. "All Forked Tongue Talk Alike" – 2:54
  9. "Challenge" – 2:20
  10. "Rainbow Made of Children" (Baker) – 3:50
  11. "Most Beautiful Day" – 0:30
  12. "An Indian Dance" – 1:15
  13. "Ceremonial Dance" – 1:59
  14. "Flick of the Wrist" – 2:15
  15. "It's All She Left Me" – 1:56
  16. "You Shouldn't Do That" – 3:21
  17. "Ring Song" (Katy Moffatt) – 4:25
  18. "Thy Loving Hand" – 1:35
  19. "Say Goodbye 'Cause You're Leavin'" – 2:36
  20. "The Theme from Billy Jack" – 2:21
  21. "One Tin Soldier (End Title)" (Lambert, Potter) – 1:06


  • Mundell Lowe: arranger, conductor
  • Coven featuring Jinx Dawson (tracks 1 & 21), Teresa Kelly (tracks 4 & 5), Lynn Baker (tracks 6 & 10), Gwen Smith (track 7), Katy Moffatt (track 17): vocals
  • Other unidentified musicians


Marketed as an action film, the story focuses on the plight of Native Americans during the civil rights era. It attained a cult following among younger audiences due to its youth-oriented, anti-authority message and the then-novel martial arts fight scenes which predate the Bruce Lee/kung fu movie trend that followed.[16] The centerpiece of the film features Billy Jack, enraged over the mistreatment of his Indian friends, fighting racist thugs using hapkido techniques.


  1. ^ a b Waxman, Sharon (June 20, 2005). "Billy Jack Is Ready to Fight the Good Fight Again". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  2. ^ "Revival of the fittest a Hollywood tradition", Leonard Klady, Variety, 11 November 1996, pg 75.
  3. ^ ICTMN Staff (December 17, 2013). "'Billy Jack' Star Tom Laughlin Dead at 82". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  4. ^ "Billy Jack". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  5. ^ Maltin, Leonard, ed. (1995). Leonard Maltin's 1996 Movie & Video Guide. Signet. p. 116. ISBN 0-451-18505-6.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 2, 1971). "Billy Jack". Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  7. ^ Thompson, Howard (July 29, 1971). "A Misguided 'Billy Jack'". The New York Times: 42.
  8. ^ "Billy Jack". Variety: 22. May 5, 1971.
  9. ^ Siskel, Gene (July 29, 1971). "Billy Jack". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 14.
  10. ^ Thomas, Kevin (August 13, 1971). "Loner Theme in 'Billy Jack'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 10.
  11. ^ Arnold, Gary (August 7, 1971). "Cowboys, Bigots, Kids and Indians". The Washington Post: B6.
  12. ^ Wilson, David (September 1972). "Billy Jack". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 39 (464): 184.
  13. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-05.
  14. ^ Mundell Lowe discography accessed August 23, 2012
  15. ^ a b Viglione, J. Allmusic Review accessed August 23, 2012
  16. ^ Stewart, Jocelyn Y. (January 14, 2007). "Bong Soo Han, 73; grand master of hapkido won film fans for martial arts". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-25.

External links

'70s on 7

'70s on 7 (or just The '70s) is a commercial-free, satellite radio channel on the Sirius XM Radio channel 7 and Dish Network 6007. It plays pop, rock, soul and disco music from the 1970s, mostly hits. Prior to XM’s merger with Sirius, Arbitron reported that '70s on 7 was the fourth most listened to channel, with a cume of 667,400 listeners per week. As part of the Sirius/XM merger on November 12, 2008, The '70s was merged with Sirius' Totally '70s and took its current name.

Much like the other decades channels, '70s on 7 attempts to recreate the feel of 1970s radio. It uses similar DJ techniques, jingles, 1970s slang, and news updates. Kid Kelly formerly, of WHTZ New York, programs the channel with Human Numan, a long time contemporary hit radio personality. Creative imaging is produced by producer Mitch Todd who oversees all producers and production on the music channels and the marketing division. Due to being commercial-free, it does not recreate any sponsor spots. The channel was also used for XM's annual pop music chronology, IT.

The original XM "70s on 7" channel made a strong effort to reproduce the smooth, velvety 1970s FM sound rather than the chatty "morning drive" sound that Sirius favored. After the XM-Sirius merger the "morning drive" sound became the "official" sound of the 1970s channel. The channel features the unique "Jukebox of Dynamite" (formerly the "Jukebox of Cheese"), when an alleged listener selects a "cheesy" song for the segment such as "Seasons In The Sun", "Theme from Billy Jack", "Run Joey Run" or "Billy Don't Be A Hero".

70s on 7 also uses bumpers that parody TV shows and commercial jingles from the 70s, and also has its own parodies of movie scenes, known as "director's cuts".

The station's logo currently has a flower as the zero. Prior to 2015, the station's logo featured a disco ball as the zero. The internet version can be biased to play only disco and soul.

1995 Kentucky Wildcats football team

The 1995 Kentucky Wildcats football team represented the University of Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) during the 1995 NCAA Division I-A football season. In their sixth season under head coach Bill Curry, the Wildcats compiled a 4–7 record (2–6 against SEC opponents), finished in fifth place in the Eastern Division of the SEC, and were outscored by their opponents, 269 to 223. The team played its home games in Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky.

The team's statistical leaders included Billy Jack Haskins with 1,176 passing yards, Moe Williams with 1,600 rushing yards, and Craig Yeast with 337 receiving yards.

Billy Jack Goes to Washington

Billy Jack Goes to Washington is a 1977 American political drama film starring Tom Laughlin, the fourth film in the Billy Jack series, and although the earlier films saw enormous success, this film did not. The film only had limited screenings upon its release and never saw a general theatrical release, but has since become widely available on DVD. The film is a loose remake of the 1939 Frank Capra film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and is directed by Laughlin under the on-screen pseudonym "T.C. Frank".

Billy Jack Haskins

Billy Jack Haskins is a former American football quarterback for the University of Kentucky from 1993 through 1996.

Haskins won the Kentucky "Mr. Football" Award as a senior at Paducah Tilghman High School in 1992. At graduation, he had passed for more yardage than any player in Kentucky high school history.

At Kentucky during his sophomore year Haskins beat out incumbent starter Jeff Speedy during the 1995 season, starting the final nine of Kentucky's eleven games. That year, he completed 60.4% of his passes (a school record at the time) for 1,176 yards and four touchdowns. His 47-yard touchdown run against Tennessee in which he broke several tackles gave Kentucky a 31–27 lead and won multiple "Play of the Year" awards.

During the 1996 season, Haskins began splitting playing time with highly regarded freshman Tim Couch.

After the 1996 season Kentucky head coach Bill Curry was fired and replaced by Hal Mumme. Mumme installed a pass-oriented offense and announced that Couch would be the starting quarterback. Haskins transferred to the University of Rhode Island to finish his playing career.

Billy Jack Haynes

William Albert Haynes III (born July 10, 1953) is a retired American professional wrestler better known as Billy Jack Haynes.

Delores Taylor

Delores Judith Taylor (September 27, 1932 – March 23, 2018) was an American film actress, writer, and producer, known for her roles in the Billy Jack films of the 1970s.

Faded Love

"Faded Love" is a Western swing song written by Bob Wills, his father John Wills, and his brother, Billy Jack Wills. The tune is considered to be an exemplar of the Western swing fiddle component of American fiddle.The melody came from an 1856 ballad, Darling Nelly Gray, which John Wills knew as a fiddle tune. "Faded Love" is a sentimental song about lost love. The name comes from the refrain that follows each verse: I remember our faded love.

The song was a major hit for Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys (MGM 10786) reaching number eight on the Country charts in 1950. It became one of his signature songs.

Leon McAuliffe had two Top 40 hits with "Faded Love", both reaching number 22 (Cimarron 4057, 1962, and MGM 14249, 1971). The former was an instrumental version, and the latter rendition was a collaboration with Tompall & the Glaser Brothers. Also in 1962, it was a modest hit for Jackie DeShannon, reaching No.97 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song had even greater success when Patsy Cline covered it in 1963. Her version became a hit, reaching number seven on the U.S. Country charts and No.96 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Due to the airplane crash that ended Cline's life, her version was never released on a studio album. Instead, it was belatedly released on Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits, a compilation album in 1967. Cline's version was originally intended to be the title cut for a planned album and was made at what turned out to be the last recording session before her death.

King of the Ring

King of the Ring is a professional wrestling single-elimination tournament held by WWE. The tournament was held annually from 1985 to 2002, with the exception of 1990 and 1992. From 1993 to 2002, the tournament was produced as a pay-per-view event. In 2003, the event's pay-per-view slot was replaced by Bad Blood.

The tournament endured a four-year hiatus until its return in 2006 as an exclusive event of the SmackDown brand. The tournament returned as an inter-brand event for both SmackDown and Raw in 2008, 2010, and 2015. WWE released a best of King of the Ring DVD in late 2011.

Mundell Lowe

James Mundell Lowe (April 21, 1922 – December 2, 2017) was an American jazz guitarist who worked often in radio, television, and film, and as a session musician.

He produced film and TV scores in the 1970s, such as the Billy Jack soundtrack and music for Starsky and Hutch, and worked with André Previn's Trio in the 1990s.

One Tin Soldier

"One Tin Soldier" is a 1960s counterculture era anti-war song written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter. Canadian pop group The Original Caste first recorded the song in 1969 for both the TA label and its parent Bell label.

The song charted each year from 1969 to 1974 by various artists and on various charts in the United States and Canada. However, it did not chart outside North America.

"One Tin Soldier" went to number 6 on the RPM Magazine charts, hit the number 1 position on CHUM AM in Toronto on 27 December 1969, and reached number 34 on the American pop charts in early 1970. It was a bigger Adult Contemporary hit, reaching number 25 U.S. AC and number 5 Canada AC.A 1971 cover was a hit in the U.S. for Coven, whose re-recording only featuring its lead singer Jinx Dawson was featured in the film Billy Jack. The single went to number 26 on the Billboard pop chart before it was pulled from radio by the film's producer. On November 20, 1971, Coven performed "One Tin Soldier" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program American Bandstand. A re-recorded version by Coven made the Billboard chart in 1973, peaking at number 79.

In 1972, Skeeter Davis had moderate success with a cover version on the American country charts, but did very well in Canada, peaking at number 4 on the Canadian country chart and number 2 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart. Davis received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal for the song.

Sam Muchnick Memorial Tournament

The Sam Muchnick Memorial Tournament was a World Wrestling Federation (WWF) supercard held at the sold-out Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri on August 29, 1986, attended by nearly 11,000 fans and making $87,000.The event was held as a tribute to longtime St. Louis promoter Sam Muchnick and featured a 16-man single-elimination tournament which saw Harley Race defeat Ricky Steamboat in the tournament finals. The semi-main event included a match between Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

The Born Losers

Born Losers is a 1967 American outlaw biker film. The film introduced Tom Laughlin as the half-Indian Green Beret Vietnam veteran Billy Jack. Since 1954 Laughlin had been trying to produce his Billy Jack script about discrimination toward American Indians. In the 1960s he decided to introduce the Billy Jack character in a quickly written script designed to capitalize on the then-popular trend in motorcycle gang movies. The story was based on a real incident from 1964 where members of the Hells Angels were arrested for raping two teenage girls in Monterey, California.

The Gold Experience

The Gold Experience is the seventeenth studio album by American recording artist Prince (his name at the time being an unpronounceable symbol). It was produced entirely by Prince and released on September 26, 1995 on NPG Records and Warner Bros. Records. The album charted at number 6 on the Billboard 200 and number 2 on the Top R&B Albums. The singles "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World", "I Hate U", and "Gold" charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at numbers 3, 12, and 88 respectively.

The Return of Billy Jack

The Return of Billy Jack is the unfinished fifth and final film in the Billy Jack movie series. The film starred Tom Laughlin (who also directed), reprising his role as Billy Jack, and co-starred Rodney Harvey and Delores Taylor. The film was produced from December 1985 to early 1986 in New York City (with some scenes filmed in Central Park), with additional scenes filmed in Toronto.

The Tall T

The Tall T is a 1957 American Western Technicolor film directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, and Maureen O'Sullivan. Adapted by Burt Kennedy from the short story "The Captives" by Elmore Leonard, the film is about an independent former ranch foreman who is kidnapped along with an heiress, who is being held for ransom by three ruthless outlaws. In 2000, The Tall T was selected for the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

The Trial of Billy Jack

The Trial of Billy Jack is a 1974 film starring Delores Taylor and Tom Laughlin. It is the sequel to the 1971 film, Billy Jack, and the third film overall in the series.Directed by Laughlin, it has a running time of nearly three hours. Although commercially successful, it was panned by critics. The film was included as one of the choices in the book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.

Tiny Moore

Billie "Tiny" Moore (May 12, 1920 – December 15, 1987) was a Western swing musician who played the electric mandolin and fiddle with Western swing legend Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in the 1940s, and with The Strangers (which for years served as backup band for Merle Haggard) during the 1970s and 1980s.

Born in the Gulf Coast town of Port Arthur, Texas, in 1920, his primary instrument was the electric mandolin. While a member of the Texas Playboys from 1946 to 1950, he played Gibson electric mandolins: at first an EM-125, and sometime after 1948, an EM-150. Although these are 8-string mandolins, Tiny used only 4 single strings instead of pairs. This gave his mandolin an electric guitarlike sound. Later, in 1952, he commissioned one of the first American-built 5-string electric mandolins from Paul Bigsby. At the time Moore was playing in a band led by Bob Wills' brother, Billy Jack. The Bigsby 5-string mandolin had single courses of strings (rather than the paired courses on a standard mandolin) and added a low C string to the standard G, D, A and E. This tuning actually gives the instrument a wider range of notes than a guitar.

Western swing is a hybrid of country, blues, and jazz; Tiny Moore's style of playing draws upon all of these sources. Moore and his Bigsby mandolin were strongly identified with each other for the remainder of his career. The instrument is arguably the most famous electric mandolin in the history of American popular music.

In the mid-1960s he taught group guitar lessons at the local YMCA in Sacramento, California. He taught every style of music from Old Timey folk to The Beatles. He also operated Tiny Moore Music, a music store in Sacramento, and sold copies of the Bigsby mandolin built by Jay Roberts of Yuba City.

In the 1970s he made two recordings with David Grisman for Kaleidoscope Records: "Tiny Moore Music" and "Back to Back," a duet album with Jethro Burns.

In 1999, Moore was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Early Influences category as a member of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

Tom Laughlin

Thomas Robert Laughlin Jr. (August 10, 1931 – December 12, 2013), known as Tom Laughlin, was an American actor, director, screenwriter, author, educator, and activist.

Laughlin was best known for his series of Billy Jack films. He was married to actress Delores Taylor from 1954 until his death. Taylor co-produced and acted in all four Billy Jack films. His unique promotion of The Trial of Billy Jack (TV trailers during national news and an "opening day" nationwide release) was a major influence on the way films are marketed.In the early 1960s, Laughlin put his film career on hiatus to start a Montessori preschool in Santa Monica, California; it became the largest school of its kind in the United States. In his later years, he sought the office of President of the United States in 1992, 2004, and 2008. He was involved in psychology and domestic abuse counseling, writing several books on Jungian psychology and developing theories on the causes of cancer.

Vito Giacalone

Vito William "Billy Jack" Giacalone (April 16, 1923 – February 19, 2012) was an American organized crime figure in Detroit, serving as a capo in the Detroit Partnership. He was the younger brother of Anthony "Tony Jack" Giacalone, also a capo in the Detroit Partnership.Vito Giacalone was described in a 1992 court document as "the most important figure in the Detroit 'Family' after its 'boss' Jack Tocco". Furthermore, a 1992 IRS document cited Giacalone as "one of the prime suspects in the 1975 disappearance of former Teamsters leader James R. Hoffa".

Films directed

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