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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Boxcar Bertha - Directed by Martin Scorsese (1972) - an early movie about a young girl into robbery

The late 60's and early 70's was the time when Martin Scrocese was making his initial movies, the time when he started to develop a reputation. It was a lesson for the young director, imparted by producer Roger Corman, who had helped other directors such as Coppola and James Cameron to also start their careers. Corman used to be able to guide directors to make movies that cost very little movies, and the same was true of this movie, Boxcar Bertha, which was made with a very low amount of 600,000 (a very low amount of money for a movie), and was a good lesson for Martin Scorcese. The movie is apparently based on a book called 'Sister of the Road', a biography of Bertha Thomson, who went onto to do train robbery at a time of the 1930's (written by Dr. Ben L. Reitman). However, the movie and the book were certainly different in terms of the story; with the movie being made to capitalize on the ongoing craze for movies in the 'Bonnie and Clyde' style. The movie, being depicted in the American South of the 1930's, you get a look at the prevalent issues related to the situation regarding racial differences, as well as issues related to gender.

The movie has as the main characters, Bertha Thompson (played by Barbara Hershey) and "Big" Bill Shelly (played by David Carradine). Bertha is a typical character of the depression era, an orphan, who was also a robber, being a typically charming woman, accompanied by 3 other members of her team, a union organizer (Bill), a con man from New York (Barry Primus) and a mechanic fond of the blues (Bernie Casey). Even though the movie is set in the 30's, you get a feel for the early 70's environment in the movie, with characters tending to adventurous, free spirited and criminal, but not more so than the tie-striped bankers and lawyers. The movie was worth watching because of the effort put in by Martin Scorsese, and these efforts are visible in the movie.

Boxcar Bertha - Directed by Martin Scorsese (1972) - an early movie about a young girl into robbery

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