I first saw the 1971 film Billy Jack when I was about twelve, while attending an idealistic, socialist, Zionist summer camp in the mountains of West Virginia, so the whole thing seemed probable to me. We were living this idyllic, lefty-pinko life, with peace and love on our brains, much like the students of The Freedom School, who Billy Jack saves from the threats of the conservative, backwards townspeople. Tom Laughlin's character, who we first met in The Born Losers, is a half-Cherokee/half-white ex-Green Beret, gunslinger and hapkido master who has disavowed violence. He comes to the aid of the school, where the most significant victims have been its Native American students, made to suffer outright racism at the hands of the townspeople. The movie, while not brilliantly produced, ends up being a bold anti-establishment and anti-racist film, with a valiant and unusual hero and tons of martial arts scenes to boot. It also features the song "One Tin Soldier" by Coven, which might be more famous than the movie itself. Billy Jack shows 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Palace Theatre in Grapevine, 300 South Main St. Call 817-410-3100 or visit grapevinetexasusa.com for tickets and information.
Fri., Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m., 2010