Martin Scorsese interviews his mother and father about their life in New York City and the family history back in Sicily. These are two people who have lived together for a long time and ... See full summary »
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
After he finished this film, Martin Scorsese screened it for John Cassavetes. Cassavetes, after seeing it, hugged Scorsese and said, "Marty, you've just spent a whole year of your life making a piece of shit. It's a good picture, but you're better than the people who make this kind of movie. Don't get hooked into the exploitation market, just try and do something different." Scorsese's next film was Mean Streets (1973). See more »
The back door of the railroad president's private car has a connecting diaphragm for passing between train cars, indicating that the back platform is an add-on. See more »
H. Buckram Sartoris:
Yes, the Reader Railroad's seen a great deal these days. Woes, strikes, and, now, the indignity of it all, gangs of Communists, hoes - pardon me, ma'am - and niggers.
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Martin Scorsese got hired by Roger Corman, I presume, to make this "based on true story" movie of a boxcar thief and robber named Bertha whom with some other robbers stole their way into a small piece in history but got into strife towards the end. It isn't one of his best pictures since he really was just the director and the script and the actors did more work than he needed to do on the picture. Like The Color of Money, it's a film that if he didn't direct it it wouldn't of made much of a difference in the outcome.
Still, give credit where credit is due, and those (very few I might think) that heard what Cassavettes said to Scoresese after the movie got released (he told Marty that it was a piece of s*** and to work on something better- which he did with Mean Streets) should disregard it. Overall, Boxcar Bertha is a watchable and good piece of cinema with some decent performances and an overall feel that works in it's "tradition of Bonnie & Clyde" genre. Hershey and Carradine are also good. Just don't expect anything ground-breaking, unlike the next 5 out of 6 movies Scorsese would make in the next eight years after this. B+
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