When Billie Beat Bobbie


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Rating: PG

Holly Hunter as Billie Jean King
Ron Silver as Bobby Riggs
Matt Letscher as Larry King
Bob Gunton as Jerry Perenchio
Jacqueline McKenzie as Margaret Court
Elizabeth Berridge as Rosie Casals
Vincent Van Patten as Lornie Kuhle
Caitlin Martin as Chris Evert
Gerry Becker as Ted Tinling
Michael Mantell as Sidney Schlenker
Kali Rocha as Connie
Maureen Mueller as Judith
Patrick Kerr as Rheo

Special Features:

Other Info:
Fullscreen (1.78:1)
Dolby Digital Surround Sound
French Language
Running Time: 88 Minutes

This movie was originally released on TV in 2001. The following is from the DVD cover:

“Academy Award(R) winner Holly Hunter (Best Actress, The Piano, 1993) stars as tennis legend Billie Jean King in this highly entertaining flashback to 1973’s historic “Battle of the Sexes.” When aging, chauvinistic tennis pro Bobby Riggs (Ron Silver — Ali, Reversal of Fortune) begins to challenge the world’s top ladies players, King confidently rises to the test — not for herself, but to defend the honor of women everywhere. Months of hype culminate in an epic match at Houston’s Astrodome that transcends sport and captivates a massive national audience. With a great cast portraying memorable, larger-than-life personalities, this outstanding feature serves up something for everyone.”

When Billie Beat Bobby is rated PG for language and thematic elements.

The Movie:
I can’t say I’m a big fan of tennis, movies about women’s sports, or tales of women’s liberation from the 60’s and 70’s. However, I still enjoyed When Billie Beat Bobby. It is an entertaining story filled with colorful characters and it gives a snapshot of an era unfamiliar to many younger audiences today. It also sheds light on an interesting page from sports history. I had heard of the tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, but I didn’t know that many details behind it. This movie brings all the real life characters to center stage and tells their stories. It also vividly paints the picture of how this tennis match was a big turning point for women’s liberation and how it was much more than a publicity stunt for an over-the-hill, male chauvinist tennis star. The movie shows how the match inspired many women all over the U.S..

What really makes When Billie Beat Bobby are the fine performances. Holly Hunter is really good as Billie Jean King. She’s so spunky, competitive, and energetic that it’s easy to like her. Billie simultaneously humors Bobby Riggs and wants to strangle him. Her alternate roles as a gracious competitor and a cutthroat athlete are wonderfully portrayed. Ron Silver is also good as Bobby Riggs. Silver is so chauvinistic and such a showman that you want to slap him, but he’s also sympathetic as a tennis player past his prime. Silver plays Riggs so over the top (like he really was) that it becomes quite enjoyable to see him fall hard when Billie inevitably beats him. About the only bad casting in this movie is the otherwise entertaining Fred Willard as Howard Cosell. He’s the worst Cosell I think I’ve ever seen on the screen.

If you’re looking for a good sports comedy or if you’re a fan of Holly Hunter, then When Billie Beat Bobby is a movie you’re going to want to check out.

The Extras:
There are no bonus features on this DVD.

The Bottom Line:
Fans of sports comedies, Holly Hunter, or movies about women’s liberation will thoroughly enjoy When Billie Beat Bobby.