Billy Bob is smitten with Lily Jane Bobbbitt.
Children On Their Birthdays drops you at the heart of post-war America: the summer of 1947 in a small southern town. Thirteen-year-old Billy Bob (Joe Pichler) and his best friend, Preacher (Jesse Plemons), revel in summer mischief until a new face appears in town: the beautiful Lily Jane Bobbitt (Tania Raymonde). Lily Jane is also only thirteen, but has poise well beyond her years—and diction eloquent enough to pardon her mother’s muteness. While Lily Bobbitt chuckles at the “country boys,” both simultaneously fall in love with her.
Billy Bob and Preacher watching the antics of some local girls on the town bridge.
Billy Bob and Preacher set their dreams on winning Lily Jane’s heart, but her time is filled with much more important things to even notice. Lily Jane establishes her mother’s dressmaking business in the new town, and soon reveals her own ambition: to be a Hollywood star. Just then, Mr. Quince (Tom Arnold) becomes the next new face in town, claiming to run the fast track to Hollywood show-business. When he starts to seems a bit shady, a touch of adventure and detective work adds a flare of energy to the leisurely plot.
Billy Bob and Lily Jane in her living room.
The variety of relationships and interplays—of characters of all age and background—boost the film hugely. We watch the bonds of best friends, mother and son, widow and budding love, and most interestingly: white and colored races. In a time where interweaving races was unheard of, Lily Jane breaks down social barriers by befriending a colored girl. This lends itself to powerful scenes that intersect nicely with the playfulness of Billy Bob and Preacher’s schoolboy crush. All viewers are captured by the tension, while being reconnected with peace and equality.
Con man Quince playing cards with the town locals.
Children On Their Birthdays clearly has one shining star: Tania Raymonde. Anyone watching the film is bound to be completely smitten with Lily Jane. Ramonde is able to evoke angelic qualities, and such a polite and ladylike essence, without the slightest aftertaste of pretentiousness or snobbery. The character throws a wrench in the town, opening their mind to beauty in a variety of ways, and the actress truly pulled it off—a feat at such a young age. Her performance advances the theme of the whole film. Under the guise of childhood love and small town scandal, Children On Their Birthdays cleverly makes you think of morals, love, and relationships.
Billy Bob and Preacher end up fighting over their pursuit of Lily Jane.
Billy Bob dancing with his mother, shot 1.
Joe Pichler in his role as young Billy Bob wears black low cut chucks throughout the film. This in itself is somewhat amazing since black low cut chucks were not made until the 1950s. Wearing black high top chucks would have been possible, but in 1947 that model had just been released and was sold in sporting goods stores as the premiere shoe for basketball players, not typical footware for a young boy in a small Alabama town. Costume designer Jay Hurley can be forgiven for this because black chucks look very cool in the film. The typical sneaker for boys in that time would be a black and white high top, so the look is close. The best scene is when after an argument that causes a rift in their relationship, Billy Bob ends up dancing with his widowed mother and their relationship returns to normal.
Billy Bob dancing with his mother, shot 2.
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