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  • Ballad of Little Jo [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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Ballad of Little Jo [DVD] [1994] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]


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Product details

  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000A02YO
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 214,588 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Mar. 2011
Format: DVD
I absolutely loved this film. Extremely atmospheric and with an authentic feel of time and place, it has left me with mind blowing recollections of wild wide open spaces, which are as romantic (I mean stern-romantic, not rosy-romantic) on screen, as they must have been harsh in real life at the time.

I am surprised to see not even one editorial note or synopsis of it on this page. So let me refer you to the many customer reviews on Amazon US, and and here are excerpts from the editorial:

" The Ballad of Little Jo is based on a true story -- several true stories, in fact. Suzy Amis plays demure young Josephine Monagan, who in 1866 is run out of her home town after bearing an illegitimate child. Fleeing westward, Josephine is terrified by stories of how treacherous the frontier can be for a woman alone. As a result, upon arriving in the muddy burg of Ruby City, she disguises herself as a man, going so far as to scar her face to suggest that she's been in a few scrapes.

In this guise, "Little Jo" does just fine by herself for nearly 30 years! Almost as good as Suzy Amis is Bo Hopkins as gunslinger Frank Badger, Little Jo's best buddy (if only he knew....) Written and directed by Maggie Greenwald, The Ballad of Little Jo does a marvelous job conveying the people and places of its period; and, unlike Bad Girls (which was released around the same time), we aren't bludgeoned to death by feminist revisionism. Unfortunately ignored when it went out to theatres in the fall of 1993, The Ballad of Little Jo has fared rather better on video.

OH, and a technical detail: this title in Region 2 (European format) has NO English subtitles / captions, while in Region 1 (America), it has.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I can watch this film over and over. It's one of those films that leaves you thinking and leaves you enriched. Based on a true story, it teaches you so much - about hidden histories, about hardship, love, the human spirit... and it also makes me proud to be a woman. Don't worry though, fellas - it's not a chick-flick or some kind of hard-line feminist propaganda. Just a beautifully acted, gritty, honest, brutal without being graphic and heart-wrenchingly tender piece of cinema. There is also plenty of gentle humour to keep the film uplifting. The soundtrack is perfect.

Without giving too much away - it portrays the life of a society woman who is cast out by her family. Quickly realising that she won't survive the harsh and brutal 'wild west' as a woman alone, she is forced to try and make a life for herself by pretending to be a man.

This is the 3rd time I've bought this movie as I can't help 'lending' it to people so I can share this experience. No doubt I'll be buying it again soon! It can be quite hard to get hold of so I was a bit concerned about buying this version from Poland but the seller included clear instructions on how to change the audio settings to get the original English soundtrack.

I could go on and on but really, seriously, just buy it. You won't regret it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 37 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A huge surprise. 25 July 2000
By dsrussell - Published on Amazon.com
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.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Maggie Greenwald's The Ballad of Little Jo 23 May 2002
By Charles Tatum - Published on Amazon.com
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. The final scenes, with Jo's unmasking, seem almost like farce, but when thought about later, play very truthfully and touchingly, especially Hopkins' reaction.
Greenwald's camera turns a small film into an epic, with gorgeous Montana scenery. Her script is also very smart, never going for cheap laughs or the kind of exploitation that a male director may have gone for. I strongly recommend "The Ballad of Little Jo."
This is rated (R) for physical violence, strong gun violence, some sexual violence, gore, some profanity, some female nudity, sexual content, sexual references, drug abuse, and adult situations.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A true portrait 29 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A TRUE HIDDEN GEM! 12 July 2004
By Arnold - Published on Amazon.com
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.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Feminist Western Works Well 6 Jan. 2003
By Martin Asiner - Published on Amazon.com
The western had long been the last bastion of male supremacy for Hollywood. With THE BALLAD OF LITTLE JO, director Maggie Greenwald presents the same hostile west that bedeviled John Wayne decades ago, but this time the protagnist is a woman named Josephine (Suzy Amis), who enters the movie as a well-to-do eastern lady who has the bad fortune to have an illegitimate baby. Her uncaring family casts her out, and Little Jo has no choice but to head west where she is subject to near rape. To protect herself, she disguises herself as a man. Now this may sound as if the film could easily turn into something as ludicrous as a western TOOTSIE, but it does not. Instead, Amis is totally convincing as a man who faces the same problems as if she were truly a man. Amis meets several men (Ian McKellen and Rene Auberjonois) who at first help her, then turn on her. She meets a Chinese man (David Chung), with whom she establishes first a friendly relation, then a physical one. By the film's end, Amis has proved that the gender of a settler is less important in securing her place in the west than is the determination that she shows. Heather Grahame does well in a secondary role, and newcomer Irina Passmoore also shines as two women, who in contrast to Little Jo, further stamp her as the first of the politically correct cowgirls.
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