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 »
In the late Spring of 1970, nationwide protests against the war in Vietnam focused in the Wall Street area of New York City and ultimately in a major anti-war demonstration in Washington, ... 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
The biplane at the beginning of the film is a Boeing PT-17 "Stearman", registration N60601. Over 10,000 Stearmans were made, primarily for use as military trainers. As for this aircraft, it was last owned by an agricultural firm in North Dakota and its registration expired in 2017. 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 »
Early Scorsese is powerful but crude, with the intricate subtleties often escaping him...
Director Martin Scorsese stages some beautifully choreographed violence in "Boxcar Bertha", his first studio film, but he had yet to break through to his actors, and much of the picture is stilted or awkward. Barbara Hershey plays Bertha Thompson, a teenage orphan in Depression-scarred Arkansas who falls in league (and in love) with a union organizer; they're joined by a black harmonica player and a Yankee card-shark to take revenge on the railroad company by robbing the trains. Adapted from Ben L. Reitman's book "Sister of the Road", Scorsese as a filmmaker is a bit misplaced within this milieu--the 1930s doesn't seem to be his thing--and while the film has atmosphere, it lacks visual assurance and nuance. Similarly, Hershey doesn't seem to connect with the Depression, either; with her dreamy eyes, flowing chestnut hair and penchant for throwing her lines away blithely, she's more like a Boxcar Hippie. Still, Scorsese uses her well at certain moments, particularly early on when she's shooting craps around a campfire, correcting a friend about her surname, or staring out a rain-soaked window. She also looks great chasing after locomotives, and the train sequences are all well-filmed. The finale, a slaughter out in the middle of nowhere, packs a visual wallop. It seems certain the youthful director saved his creative juices for this sequence, and his cinematic prowess suddenly flairs up. Visceral and expressive, this showdown turns the story around from mere exploits of low-class gangsters into something far more profound: a sorrowful human tragedy soaked in consequence and fate. **1/2 from ****
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