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USA 1972
Directed by
Martin Scorsese
88 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Boxcar Bertha

Martin Scorsese's debut feature, made under the mantle of his mentor Roger Corman’s American International label is an inauspicious affair. It does in hindsight show indications of the director's thematic interests, in particular, with graphic violence and Christological mythology and there are a few “artistic” flourishes such a long shot down an empty corridor and Bertha seen through a misted window but these only come towards the film’s end by and the large the remainder is laughably clumsy.  As a knock-off of Bonnie and Clyde it is simply awful, That Scorsese was able to do so little with a not inconsiderable budget of $600,000, is surprising,

Barbara Hershey (who obliges Scorsese by appearing in her birthday suit for a couple of extended sequences) plays Boxcar Bertha Thompson a real life figure who during the Depression teamed up with a union agitator (David Carradine), a small-time conman (Barry Primus) and a black dude (Von Morton) and went on a crime spree across the Deep South.  In the spirit of the times (compare, for instance, aside from Penn's classic, Robert Altman’s Thieves Like Us) Scorsese, treats it all as a jaunty anti-establishmentarian romp but so feebly that only Scorsese completists will be likely to have the forbearance to stick it through.




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