5.6/10
2,698
41 user 41 critic

Bloody Mama (1970)

A psychologically-disturbed matriarch presides over her damaged family of bank-robbing misfits.

Director:

Roger Corman

Writers:

Don Peters (story), Robert Thom (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Shelley Winters ... 'Ma' Kate Barker
Pat Hingle ... Sam Adams Pendlebury
Don Stroud ... Herman Barker
Diane Varsi ... Mona Gibson
Bruce Dern ... Kevin Dirkman
Clint Kimbrough Clint Kimbrough ... Arthur Barker
Robert De Niro ... Lloyd Barker
Robert Walden ... Fred Barker
Alex Nicol ... George Barker
Pamela Dunlap ... Rembrandt
Michael Fox ... Dr. Roth
Scatman Crothers ... Moses (as 'Scatman' Crothers)
Stacy Harris ... Agent McClellan
Lisa Linsky Lisa Linsky ... Young Kate (as Lisa Jill)
Steve Mitchell Steve Mitchell ... Sheriff
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Storyline

A psychological gangster film based on fact. Machine gun totin' Ma Barker lead her family gang (her sons) on a crime spree in the Depression era. Her loyal brood have every perversion imaginable. The sadistic Herman sleeps with his Ma. When Fred Barker is released from prison, he brings home his cellmate and lover Kevin Dirkman, who also sleeps with Ma, much to Fred's chagrin. Lloyd Barker is a spaced-out drug addict who sniffs glue if nothing better is around. Ma kidnaps happy-go-lucky millionaire Sam Adams Pendlebury and holds him for ransom. Arthur Barker, Ma's wallflower son, and Herman's hooker lady friend Mona Gibson also figure in the story. The bloody finale is virtually choreographed, and a visual stunner. Filmed in the Ozarks. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

MEET MA BARKER who took her bibles, her hymn book and her tommy and raised four sons and more hell than most of the mobs in Chicago. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 August 1970 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Bloody Mama - gangsterfamilien Barker See more »

Filming Locations:

Little Rock, Arkansas, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Ryder Sound Services)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shelley Winters played a character that spoofed "Ma" Barker. On Batman (1966), she played "Ma" Parker in a couple of episodes as a guest star. See more »

Goofs

In the prison cell when Freddie is walking on Dirkman's back, if you look on the cell wall behind him, you'll see graffiti of a Nazi swastika on the wall. The movie takes place circa 1930 and the Nazi symbol didn't even exist (at least in America's consciousness) until the late 1930's-1940's. Correction: The swastika was used as good luck symbol long before the Nazis. It was a common Native American symbol of good fortune and was on the official patch of the 45th Infantry Division of the US Army prior to 1930. So it's use as graffiti is not impossible. See more »

Quotes

'Ma' Kate Barker: It's supposed to be a free country Mona. But unless you're rich, you ain't free and you know that. So I aim to be freer than the rest of the people.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was originally rejected for a UK cinema certificate by the BBFC and then released 8 months later in 1971 with cuts to nudity, violent beatings, a rape scene, the drowning of Rembrandt, Lloyd's injection scenes and the violent shooting of Herman. The 18-rated UK video release of this film was cut by 11 seconds by the BBFC and removes the scene where Bruce Dern drops a tethered piglet into a river to use as alligator bait. The cuts were fully waived for the 2009 Optimum DVD. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Series 7: The Contenders (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Bloody Mama
Written by Don Randi, Guy Hemric and Bob Silver
Performed by Bigfoot
See more »

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User Reviews

Pistol-Packin' Hillbillies
20 January 2013 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Fun movie about a gun toting Ozark clan that rebels against their Depression-era poverty by stealing, threatening, robbing banks, kidnapping, and killing their way into infamy. The clan's leader is colorful Ma (Kate) Barker (Shelley Winters), self-confident, forceful, and determined to get some high-style living for her and her four boys, whatever is required.

Interspersed through the plot are real-life B&W flashbacks to the 1920s and 30s, which enhance a sense of realism, as does the casting of non-actors in minor roles in some scenes. The dialogue is at times clever, like during one of the B&W flashback scenes when, in V.O., Ma tells us: "1929 was a bad year for a lot of folks. The rich men was jumpin' out of the windows and, as usual, they fell on the poor".

In addition to clever dialogue, Shelley Winters makes the film fun, mostly as a result of her over-the-top Southern accent. And there's something quite ironic about her character. For all of Kate's gun-loving ways, she's actually quite religious and anti-war. In one sequence, she sits down at the piano to play, and starts singing a song to spark some life into her four dejected sons; they eventually join in. "I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier; I brought him up to be my pride and joy … there'd be no war today, if mothers all would say, I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier", which also sums up her familial bond with her sons.

The film's color cinematography is acceptable, though nothing special. Prod design and costumes seem accurate for the era, though Shelley's long eyelashes look more like something from the 1960s than the 1920s. The film's songs are good; I really like that title song.

A lot of viewers don't like this movie, for a variety of reasons. No, it isn't a realistic portrayal of the real Ma Barker. And no, the story is not altogether accurate, though some plot points are. But it's a fun movie and worth watching, mostly for the entertaining performance of Shelley Winters.


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