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
Barbara Hershey later called the film "a lot of fun even though it's terribly crippled by Roger Corman and the violence and sex. But between the actors and Martin Scorsese the director, we had a lot of fun. We really had characters down but one tends to not see all that, because you end up seeing all the blood and sex." See more »
Bertha frees Bill Shelley from the prison gang by faking a punctured tire. The wheel with the flat is left at the side of the road. In the following car chase, the wheel is initially missing from the car. Later the tire is clearly seen fixed to the rear of the car. When the car is being destroyed, the spare tire is gone again. See more »
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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