Boxcar Bertha (1972)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Romance  |  14 June 1972 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 5,823 users  
Reviews: 39 user | 35 critic

During the depression, a union leader and a young woman become criminals to exact revenge on the management of a railroad.



(book), (screenplay) (as Joyce H. Corrington) , 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Barry Primus ...
Rake Brown
Von Morton
H. Buckram Sartoris
McIver #1
David Osterhout ...
McIver #2 (as David R. Osterhout)
Grahame Pratt ...
Emeric Pressburger (credit only)
'Chicken' Holleman ...
M. Powell (credit only)
Harvey Hall (as Harry Northrup)
Ann Morell ...
Tillie Parr
Marianne Dole ...
Mrs. Mailler
Joe Reynolds ...
Joe Cox


Based on "Sister of the Road," the fictionalized autobiography of radical and transient Bertha Thompson as written by physician Dr. Ben L. Reitman, 'Boxcar' Bertha Thompson, a woman labor organizer in Arkansas during the violence-filled Depression of the early '30's meets up with rabble-rousing union man 'Big' Bill Shelly and they team up to fight the corrupt railroad establishment and she is eventually sucked into a life of crime with him. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


America in the 30's was a Free Country. Bertha was jes' a little bit free'er than most. See more »


Crime | Drama | Romance


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

14 June 1972 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A lázadók ökle  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$600,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In 1972 American-International Pictures distributed this film on a double bill with Killers Three (1968) starring Robert Walker Jr.. See more »


The caboose the gang robs is of a distinctive design used only by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, which did not run through Arkansas. See more »


'Big' Bill Shelly: Hey, Bertha!
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Mavericks (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

The worlds of Corman and Scorsese collide, and the results? Pretty damn good!
24 February 2002 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

Roger Corman's indirect influence on the 70s movie renaissance is often overlooked. Many of that decade's key players served their apprenticeships on Corman's quickies. Directors like Coppola, Bogdanovich, Bartel and Demme, and actors like Nicholson, Hopper, Fonda, Dern, Stanton, and even De Niro.

Add Martin Scorsese to that list. 'Boxcar Bertha', his movie directly before the breakthrough 'Mean Streets', may not display his talent in full, but it is a surprisingly well shot and acted, and is an above average b-grade movie with a lot of entertainment value.

Like similar Corman productions from this period ('Bloody Mama', 'Dillinger', 'Big Bad Mama') it is a Depression era look at flamboyant criminals. An exploitation movie for sure, but exploitation with style and class. Barbara Hershey (who would reunite with Scorsese in seriously underrated 'The Last Temptation Of Christ') plays the title role, but the real star of the movie is her then real life partner David Carradine ('Kung Fu', 'Death Race 2000'), who gives a strong, charismatic performance. The supporting cast includes blaxploitation legend Bernie Casey ('Cleopatra Jones',etc.), Carradine's veteran character actor father John, and Scorsese/Ferrara regular Victor Argo ('Taxi Driver', 'King Of New York').

'Boxcar Bertha' is by no means one of Scorsese's greatest achievements, but it is nothing to be embarrassed about either. Check it out sometime. It's much better than you would think.

24 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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