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The Ballad of Little Jo (1993)

Suzy Amis , Bo Hopkins , Maggie Greenwald  |  R |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Suzy Amis, Bo Hopkins, Ian McKellen, David Chung, Heather Graham
  • Directors: Maggie Greenwald
  • Writers: Maggie Greenwald
  • Producers: Anne Dillon, Brenda Goodman, Fred Berner, Ira Deutchman, John Sloss
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: New Line Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2003
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000A02YO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,670 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Ballad of Little Jo" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Starring Suzy Amis. Disgraced, a 19th century society girl journey's west disguised as a man. Inspired by a true story. Year: 124 Director: Maggie Greenwald Starring: Suzy Amis, Bo Hopkins, Ian Mckellen

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A huge surprise. July 25, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
For a movie that I wasn't prepared to like, this little, unknown `ballad' turned into a treasure-trove of surprises. Well acted throughout, "The Ballad of Little Jo" hits the mark at almost every turn. The director and writer, Maggie Greenwald, brought a sense of stark realism to the period, much like Robert Altman brought to his classic "McCabe and Mrs. Miller". This was especially true in the mining camp scenes.
This is a story of a young woman trying to make it on her own as she travels west after an affair has brought her shame and banishment. The twist, of course, is that the only way she can survive and scratch an existence is by hiding herself as a man (actually, a boy). The classic beauty of Suzy Amis requires one to stretch his or her imagination quite a bit in order for this movie to work. For instance, did I, for even one second, think she looked like a man? Not on your life, buster! How about as a young lad? Well, not really. So did it work? A very surprising YES! And the credit has to go to Ms. Amis--she was wonderful in this film--as well as the director.
The movie travels at a somewhat pedestrian pace, however, it is never dull and carries a wealth of scenes that brings out a pure and simple honesty, which is rare in filmmaking. After viewing this film, I wished that they had spent a little more time showing Josephine the woman, but because of time constraints (the film was fairly long as is), most of her past was shown only in quick flashbacks. Between 1 and 10, "The Ballad of Little Jo" deserves a solid 8. This is one film I know I'll enjoy over and over again. People, do yourself a favor and rent or buy this film. I think you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maggie Greenwald's The Ballad of Little Jo May 23, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Before watching this, do not make the mistake of lumping this film in with silly cross dressing comedies like "Tootsie" and "Mrs. Doubtfire." While based on a true story, director Greenwald sidesteps many western (and Hollywood) conventions to bring one of the best westerns of the 1990's.
Suzy Amis plays Jo, a woman who is a little too trusting of some bad men. After escaping to the west and leaving her born out of wedlock son behind, she is almost raped by two soldiers. To hide from them, she wears men's clothing and scars her face, eventually using her new facade to get what she needs in the west to survive. Ian McKellen plays a woman hater who takes her in, believing she is a young man. She eventually befriends Bo Hopkins, who has his best role in years, and starts a sheep ranch. She falls in love with a Chinese man she was forced to hire as her cook, and must eventually do battle with a cattle comglomerate trying to get a foothold and driving the sheep ranchers out.
Amis resembles Eric Stoltz in her scenes as a man, and is totally believable. McKellan and Rene Auberjonois have small but pivotal roles as older father figures who Amis trusts, but eventually turn on her. Bo Hopkins is great as the neighbor Amis tolerates, befriends, and tolerates. David Chung plays the Chinese man nicknamed Tin Man as an ailing opium addicted flawed man. He looks perfect for the part, life scars and all. Heather Graham also has a small part as Amis' paramour, and does her best with it.
The most surprising aspects of this film is what the film is not. There are no cute "Yentl" scenes, where Amis falls in love with a man as a man. The cattle company war, a standard western plot point, never overwhelms the story, or comes to a trite conclusion.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true portrait July 29, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Ths is a beautiful and sensitive film, with moments of heart-wrenching realism and of great tenderness. Not only is it an honest portrayal of a woman alone in the West, but also it is one of the few American films I have seen to address with dignity and truthfulness the predicament of nineteenth century Chinese immigrants, and to star a fine Chinese-American actor, David Chung. The scenes between Jo and her lover, played by Chung, are very moving, and extremely sexy, and for me were highlights of this excellent movie.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A TRUE HIDDEN GEM! July 12, 2004
By Arnold
Format:VHS Tape
Easily one of the best movies I have ever seen, hands down. A "sleeper", that I caught by accident late one night as I was channel surfing, yawning and stretching for bed. Within the first few minutes I was rivetted. The film features excellence at every possible level, from camera work, casting, script,set, acting and of course direction. This story in the wrong hands would have been a complete farce, but here we are treated to a story that is so believable (don't forget, it is based on a true story!) and gripping I still don't know how it is not a huge cult classic at the very least! This woman's life-story is told with dignity, patience and a fearless honesty that few movies can approach. The ending is particularly wonderful as are the love scenes between Little Jo and her Chinese lover. Most of my friends consider me a bit of a "foreign film snob", truth is I just dislike "Hollywood" movies and have always felt that there has for years always been so many wonderful movies made in other countries that we have little access too! In my opinion most of the time these films make US films look ridiculous. However, this film, Maggie Greenwald et al restored my faith in the possibility that good movies, good ART could be made in the United States of America.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars This would be worth a buck at a garage sale.
Any movie that you can explain in one sentance is . . . . why not see a great one again?
Published 1 day ago by Raymond I. Spangler
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Western movies
I saw this several years ago and have been trying to find it. If you like Western movies, this is very good, very different type of western movie , Thanks Amazon for having it... Read more
Published 1 month ago by beverly j robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
True story//loved it.
Published 1 month ago by Linda Caldwell-Okelley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What a great story!!
Published 3 months ago by BR
5.0 out of 5 stars Different take on the Western genre - Highly Recommend
I saw this at the West Newton Theater when it first came out in 1993 and really enjoyed it. Grew up with the '50s TV cowboys who I enjoyed as a child and later enjoyed Clint in his... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Massachusetts
5.0 out of 5 stars Love It
As a woman, I love this! Not a big fan of Westerns, but this was different (in a good way).
Published 17 months ago by Linda Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars my kind of western...
This movie will leave you breathless! The photography is awesome, the actors/actressess are great!! The story line believable!! Read more
Published 18 months ago by kuntryboi
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Women
The reason I really enjoyed this movie is that it is based on a true story. So many are written about men, but to find a story of a socialite who had been outcasted by her father... Read more
Published 19 months ago by M. E. Sheffield
5.0 out of 5 stars Good film on old west
The film came in excellent shape and on time.
Besides begin a good film on the American West,
this is an excellent film for Gender and Women's
Published 19 months ago by Joanne Hayes
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ballad of Little Jo
Loved this story. The movie was well cast and had an excellent script. The sound track is phenomenal and well worth listening to separately.
Published 19 months ago by BB
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