Sex, murder, robbery—sounds like everything to expect in a Martin Scorsese film, right? While that remains correct, Boxcar Bertha (1972) is Scorsese’s take on crime drama like we have never seen before… and not for the better. Set in the southern belly of Arkansas, Boxcar Bertha tells the love story of… well, Boxcar Bertha (Barbara Hershey) and her counterpart, Big Bill Shelly (David Carradine). The two are train robbers running from the law looking to snatch steal or shoot anything for a buck.
Throughout the film, the viewer can see tidbits of what is to come from the young director. With the story’s backbone staying intimate, experimental camera work and the sometimes corny, yet a favorable 1970s, western style, the film is a fun watch. Other times, the film can be a train wreck…no pun intended. Given a larger budget than his first film, Scorsese attempts to out due himself with action sequences that make you cringe. With a strangely structured shootout sequence that makes you ask “what the hell is going on?” and several, over-the-top fiery explosions, the film relies too heavily on the set pieces to intrigue the audience.
Again, Boxcar Bertha does not present the favorable, structured look of the usual Martin Scorsese project that we all know and love…this film is NOT a bad film. Containing murderous, cheating bandits, the audience learns to love the characters…something Scorsese specializes in—the anti-hero. While this may not be the first Scorsese film to recommend, and it may say something that the movie is COMPLETELY FREE online, but with no doubt Boxcar Bertha will put a smile on your face as you sit back and watch the lovable and respectable shit show.
Story/Plot – 13/20 Direction – 14/20 Acting - 11/20
Cinematography – 14/20 Score/Soundtrack – 10/20
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