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Boxcar Bertha (1972)

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

Director:

Martin Scorsese

Writers:

Ben L. Reitman (book), Joyce Hooper Corrington (screenplay) (as Joyce H. Corrington) | 1 more credit »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Barbara Hershey ... Boxcar Bertha
David Carradine ... Big Bill Shelly
Barry Primus ... Rake Brown
Bernie Casey ... Von Morton
John Carradine ... H. Buckram Sartoris
Victor Argo ... McIver #1
David Osterhout David Osterhout ... McIver #2 (as David R. Osterhout)
Grahame Pratt Grahame Pratt ... Emeric Pressburger (credit only)
'Chicken' Holleman 'Chicken' Holleman ... M. Powell (credit only)
Harry Northup ... Harvey Hall (as Harry Northrup)
Ann Morell Ann Morell ... Tillie Parr
Marianne Dole Marianne Dole ... Mrs. Mailler
Joe Reynolds Joe Reynolds ... Joe Cox
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Life made her an outcast. Love made her an outlaw. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 June 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Faust der Rebellen See more »

Filming Locations:

Camden, Arkansas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The train sequences were shot first and they took about a week. This was done to get the most complicated element of the production, working with a moving train, out of the way first. See more »

Goofs

When Bertha first takes the feather at the party, the right strap of her dress is drooping. In the next shot, it's up on her shoulder. See more »

Quotes

Boxcar Bertha: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening Statement: The following events are adapted from the true experiences of Boxcar Bertha Thompson, as related in the book "Sister of the Road" See more »

Connections

Featured in The Directors: The Films of Martin Scorsese (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Sonata no. 11 in A, K. 331, Mov. 3
(uncredited)
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
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 InfofreakSee 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.


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