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2 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Ballad of Little Jo, The
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by Elaine Perrone

"Little Jo: A sublime tale of a Girl of the Not-So-Golden West."
4 stars

In Maggie Greenwald's delightfully offbeat tale of the Wild West, Suzy Amis is Josephine Monaghan, a young socialite living with her family in New York. After being seduced by the family photographer (Sam Robards) and bearing his child, Josephine is cast out by her father, and her son's upbringing turned over to her sister, Helen (Jenny Lynch).

Josephine sets out on her own for the West, but after being nearly raped, and quickly realizing the peril to a woman alone, she cuts her hair, scars her face, and dresses in men's clothing, becoming, for the rest of her days, Little Jo Monaghan.

Arriving in the mining town of Ruby City, Little Jo is quickly adopted by Frank Badger (a marvelous Bo Hopkins), an irascible but softhearted sheep rancher, but only after passing Frank's hilarious test to ascertain that Jo is not "a dude." Also befriending Jo is Percy Corcoran (Ian McKellen), an analyst with the mining company, who offers the young "man" a job and lodging. Percy, however, turns out to be a mean drunk and a misogynist who beats up on prostitutes and whose fury knows no bounds when he discovers Josephine's secret, after intercepting a letter from her sister. Exiled from Ruby City for his bad behavior, Percy finally agrees to keep Josephine's secret only after extracting her commitment to finance his move out of town.

Later, Little Jo saves a Chinese man, Tiananmen "Tinman" Wong (David Chung), from being lynched by the townsfolk, including Frank, who gives Tinman to Jo as a housekeeper. Josephine and Tinman become lovers but live together for years, to all appearances, as "master" and servant.

Beautifully written and acted, The Ballad of Little Jo also features some fine performances in smaller roles, notably, Carrie Snodgress as Frank's wife Ruth; Heather Graham as Mary, a young lady who tries mightily, but to no avail, to turn Jo's head; Rene Aberjonois as a traveling peddler who betrays Josephine and sets her on the course to becoming "him"; and Anthony Heald as a ruthless land buyer who will stop at nothing to acquire the land in and around Ruby City.

Most importantly, in the pivotal role of Little Jo, Amis, a strikingly attractive woman with delicate features and a refined air about her, never stretches credibility as the young tenderfoot who quickly becomes the favorite of Ruby City's playfully protective men and flirtatious women. In fact, with her hair shorn and face scarred, her voice and manners coarsened, Amis's androgynous Little Jo is an astonishing double of Eric Stoltz, the twin from whom I was firmly convinced she could have been separated at birth!

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3692&reviewer=376
originally posted: 07/18/04 00:45:41
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User Comments

11/07/05 BAEBAEA qILLIAMSON-wOOD i am a native of Wyoming and worked cattle and sheep. This story was great.. no cosmetis ab 5 stars
6/12/05 Jeanne Suzy Amis was amazing. If she never makes another film, she should be proud. 5 stars
7/29/03 IndianaChick Very good, low key and beautifully done 4 stars
6/04/03 Charles Tatum Incredible 5 stars
3/01/03 y2mckay They took a hot chick, and turned her into a MAN, man! Interesting story, but too long. 3 stars
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  02-Sep-1993 (R)
  DVD: 02-Sep-2003



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