Boxcar Bertha Reviews

  • Jul 28, 2019

    Senseless violence in a movie with barely any plot, just an excuse for guns, skin, and for Scorsese to try and learn his craft, which he hadn't yet. Avoid like the plague unless you like pointless, gratuitous violence. Pure garbage,

    Senseless violence in a movie with barely any plot, just an excuse for guns, skin, and for Scorsese to try and learn his craft, which he hadn't yet. Avoid like the plague unless you like pointless, gratuitous violence. Pure garbage,

  • Apr 19, 2019

    This film is almost universally considered Scorsese's worst but personally I found a lot to like about it, most importantly the performance of the luminous Barbara Hershey. Scorsese made this film for $600,000 five years after the critical success of 1967's Who's That Knocking at My Door, this film received largely negative reviews and is viewed as a bump in the road before Mean Streets (1973) and Raging Bull (1980). No, the film is not perfect it has it's fair share of problems namely being a blatant rip-off of Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and being strangely paced. None of these flaws completely derail the film however and it is a beautiful, competently directed 90 minutes with a dazzling lead performance from one of the greatest actresses of the 1980s. The film is based upon the writings of Ben L. Reitman and the fugitives Bertha "Boxcar Bertha" Thompson, Barbara Hershey, and "Big" Bill Shelley, David Carradine and their adventures during the American Civil War. Shelley is a union leader who is imprisoned for his actions as a striker, Thompson becomes involved with the Yankee Rake Brown, Barry Primus, and she shoots his opponent after a particularly contentious poker game. Thompson and Brown break Shelley and his black friend Von Morton, Bernie Casey, out of prison and they all go on the run together and rob members of the upper class. When the fun and games come to an end Thompson is forced to reconsider her relationship with Shelley. The most disappointing aspects of the film are it's tawdry seemingly out-of-nowhere sex scenes and cheap violence. Hershey's sensitive performance is let down by the objectification of her body and the very un-sexy sex scenes in which real-life couple Carradine and Hershey cavort in unnatural ways. I myself have never had sexual intercourse but I have seen enough depictions of it to know that the awkward love scenes found her are not realistic or vaguely arousing. The violence is not particularly exciting, it all appears very fake, and it feels as though it cuts into what could have otherwise been a more interesting tale of lovers on the run. If Roger Corman's vision had been cut out of the film it would undoubtedly be a more satisfying experience. The plot elements all feel very clichà (C)d and Joyce and John Corrington's screenplay does not contain the gems found in Robert Benton's screenplay for the aforementioned 1967 film. The beauty of the film is found in the acting as Hershey, Morton and Casey bring a real sense of fun and electricity to the interactions between their characters despite the copied and pasted lines in the script. Scorsese is also able to add something special to the film with his lively camera work and pretty cinematography that captures the rich colors of the Southern environment. Scorsese and the cast are able to overcome the weaknesses of the screenplay and build a film that is quite entertaining and does not overstay it's welcome at just 87 minutes. Finally, I would like to talk about the beauty of a young Barbara Hershey. She is simply terrific, we are dazzled by her the moment we first see her, scratching her leg as she is admired by David Carradine. She proves that she is not just a great beauty throughout the rest of the film as she is able to reap genuine emotion out of the final scene in which she pursues the crucified body of her lover. The star power is clear just four years into Hershey's career and she elevates the film from just another piece of exploitation cinema to a richly textured, emotional piece of drama. The supporting actors are fine, Carradine is rather weak but he doesn't really have to act. Primus is rather funny as the weak Yankee and Casey gives a performance that is more than the â~magical negro' stereotype, they both craft characters that we really care about, unlike Gangs of New York (2002). It is a testament to their acting ability that we are interested in their characters as again they are given very little interesting dialogue. I really liked this film despite itself and the spirited performances really lifted the film. The cinematography and Scorsese's direction exceeded the beauty of the material they were working with. It was definitely one of the more accessible films found in Scorsese's filmography and I am not going to lie I had real fun watching it. That caused me to place it at thirteenth but I understand why some will disagree with me.

    This film is almost universally considered Scorsese's worst but personally I found a lot to like about it, most importantly the performance of the luminous Barbara Hershey. Scorsese made this film for $600,000 five years after the critical success of 1967's Who's That Knocking at My Door, this film received largely negative reviews and is viewed as a bump in the road before Mean Streets (1973) and Raging Bull (1980). No, the film is not perfect it has it's fair share of problems namely being a blatant rip-off of Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and being strangely paced. None of these flaws completely derail the film however and it is a beautiful, competently directed 90 minutes with a dazzling lead performance from one of the greatest actresses of the 1980s. The film is based upon the writings of Ben L. Reitman and the fugitives Bertha "Boxcar Bertha" Thompson, Barbara Hershey, and "Big" Bill Shelley, David Carradine and their adventures during the American Civil War. Shelley is a union leader who is imprisoned for his actions as a striker, Thompson becomes involved with the Yankee Rake Brown, Barry Primus, and she shoots his opponent after a particularly contentious poker game. Thompson and Brown break Shelley and his black friend Von Morton, Bernie Casey, out of prison and they all go on the run together and rob members of the upper class. When the fun and games come to an end Thompson is forced to reconsider her relationship with Shelley. The most disappointing aspects of the film are it's tawdry seemingly out-of-nowhere sex scenes and cheap violence. Hershey's sensitive performance is let down by the objectification of her body and the very un-sexy sex scenes in which real-life couple Carradine and Hershey cavort in unnatural ways. I myself have never had sexual intercourse but I have seen enough depictions of it to know that the awkward love scenes found her are not realistic or vaguely arousing. The violence is not particularly exciting, it all appears very fake, and it feels as though it cuts into what could have otherwise been a more interesting tale of lovers on the run. If Roger Corman's vision had been cut out of the film it would undoubtedly be a more satisfying experience. The plot elements all feel very clichà (C)d and Joyce and John Corrington's screenplay does not contain the gems found in Robert Benton's screenplay for the aforementioned 1967 film. The beauty of the film is found in the acting as Hershey, Morton and Casey bring a real sense of fun and electricity to the interactions between their characters despite the copied and pasted lines in the script. Scorsese is also able to add something special to the film with his lively camera work and pretty cinematography that captures the rich colors of the Southern environment. Scorsese and the cast are able to overcome the weaknesses of the screenplay and build a film that is quite entertaining and does not overstay it's welcome at just 87 minutes. Finally, I would like to talk about the beauty of a young Barbara Hershey. She is simply terrific, we are dazzled by her the moment we first see her, scratching her leg as she is admired by David Carradine. She proves that she is not just a great beauty throughout the rest of the film as she is able to reap genuine emotion out of the final scene in which she pursues the crucified body of her lover. The star power is clear just four years into Hershey's career and she elevates the film from just another piece of exploitation cinema to a richly textured, emotional piece of drama. The supporting actors are fine, Carradine is rather weak but he doesn't really have to act. Primus is rather funny as the weak Yankee and Casey gives a performance that is more than the â~magical negro' stereotype, they both craft characters that we really care about, unlike Gangs of New York (2002). It is a testament to their acting ability that we are interested in their characters as again they are given very little interesting dialogue. I really liked this film despite itself and the spirited performances really lifted the film. The cinematography and Scorsese's direction exceeded the beauty of the material they were working with. It was definitely one of the more accessible films found in Scorsese's filmography and I am not going to lie I had real fun watching it. That caused me to place it at thirteenth but I understand why some will disagree with me.

  • Feb 20, 2019

    i thought it was great

    i thought it was great

  • Jun 28, 2017

    As coisas acontecem por acontecer, na maioria das vezes sem nenhum motivo plausível ou convincente, mas com uma boa direção do Martin Scorsese, você consegue apreciar varias cenas bem dirigidas. O filme é mediano.

    As coisas acontecem por acontecer, na maioria das vezes sem nenhum motivo plausível ou convincente, mas com uma boa direção do Martin Scorsese, você consegue apreciar varias cenas bem dirigidas. O filme é mediano.

  • Apr 14, 2017

    I've attempted to watch this movie. However, the story just isn't any good. Plus, Barbara Hershey isn't given a big enough part. I turned it off about a third of the way through.

    I've attempted to watch this movie. However, the story just isn't any good. Plus, Barbara Hershey isn't given a big enough part. I turned it off about a third of the way through.

  • Avatar
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
    Dec 01, 2016

    Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of all time, but it wasn't always that way. Back in the early 1970's he was still finding his way and trying some techniques out. While Boxcar Bertha is nowhere near the quality of Scorsese's later efforts, you can tell there was talent there, just waiting to be exploited. Boxcar Bertha tells the fictional account of two lovers, a union leader and a loner, who find pleasure taking up crime to seek vengeance on what railroad management has done to them. David Carradine and Barbara Hershey star, as Scorsese directs his second feature length film. With plenty of similarities to Badlands or even Bonnie and Clyde, it's hard to figure out exactly what this film has to offer. In reality, it doesn't bring anything new to the genre, nor is the acting all that impressive. With that said, because of where Scorsese is today, it's worth watching. There are plenty of intriguing shots used by the famed director that he would use later on, or even just certain transitions from scene to scene. As a film geek, that was interesting to see. But as far as the film itself, I don't know that you would get anything out of this story. Just go watch Badlands again. That's a much more fascinating take on two young people taking up murder and crime in the west. +Scorsese trying things out -Nothing new added to this style of a story -Acting is sub-par 4.6/10

    Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of all time, but it wasn't always that way. Back in the early 1970's he was still finding his way and trying some techniques out. While Boxcar Bertha is nowhere near the quality of Scorsese's later efforts, you can tell there was talent there, just waiting to be exploited. Boxcar Bertha tells the fictional account of two lovers, a union leader and a loner, who find pleasure taking up crime to seek vengeance on what railroad management has done to them. David Carradine and Barbara Hershey star, as Scorsese directs his second feature length film. With plenty of similarities to Badlands or even Bonnie and Clyde, it's hard to figure out exactly what this film has to offer. In reality, it doesn't bring anything new to the genre, nor is the acting all that impressive. With that said, because of where Scorsese is today, it's worth watching. There are plenty of intriguing shots used by the famed director that he would use later on, or even just certain transitions from scene to scene. As a film geek, that was interesting to see. But as far as the film itself, I don't know that you would get anything out of this story. Just go watch Badlands again. That's a much more fascinating take on two young people taking up murder and crime in the west. +Scorsese trying things out -Nothing new added to this style of a story -Acting is sub-par 4.6/10

  • May 26, 2016

    the 70's were the peak years 4 roger corman why? cos he surrounded himself with amazing talent this is directed by scorsese features master character actor from hollywood's golden era john carradine & his son david (kill bill)& the gr8 barbara hershey (beaches)

    the 70's were the peak years 4 roger corman why? cos he surrounded himself with amazing talent this is directed by scorsese features master character actor from hollywood's golden era john carradine & his son david (kill bill)& the gr8 barbara hershey (beaches)

  • Mar 07, 2016

    The winsome harmonica that opens Martin Scorsese's second feature film, Boxcar Bertha, should be all the indication you need that it isn't the kind of movie we've come to expect from the king of the gangster flick. Boxcar Bertha is Southern-fried pulp through and through. From the characters' unmistakable drawl and the incessant sound of buzzing cicadas to the clingy sundresses to the gentlemanly suits and hats, the film is nothing if not a spot-on (though slightly overexaggerated) study of a time and place. But Boxcar Bertha has grander intentions. It's story is one of desperation and principles. To what end will a man stand up for what he believes in? And to what end should he? These are the questions Scorsese and company try to answer over a period of 90 minutes. They succeed to a degree, but the film isn't quite focused enough. Producer Roger Corman's influence is front and center as the film devolves into a sex-filled exercise in exploitation cinema, which distracts mightily from Boxcar Bertha's primary dramatic thrust. Barbara Hershey plays the film's titular character who, in the film's opening scene, is orphaned when her father-a crop duster-crashes his plane. She's consoled by a black man, Von Morton (Bernie Casey), and the head of the local union, Big Bill Shelly (David Carradine). Quickly, her relationship with Bill becomes sexual, but the two are separated, as Bill's union leadership puts him constantly at odds with the law. While separated, Bertha meets a Yankee, Rake Brown (Barry Primus), who fashions himself a con man, but isn't much more than a card cheat. She helps him with his Southern accent, and the two try to rip off a local railroad baron. But it goes disastrously wrong when the man starts talking about killing Big Bill. Bertha shoots the man, they track Bill down, and hitch a ride to safety on a boxcar. Later, the trio hooks up with Von, and this new group of four starts robbing uber-wealthy Southerners. Big Bill, however, doesn't like the practice. He fashions himself an honest man, and he wants to fight for justice without taking advantage. But the more these people are put up against it, the more acceptable their behavior feels. With a title like Boxcar Bertha, one would assume the focal point of the film would, in fact, be Bertha. That's a surprisingly debatable point. Big Bill's journey from a principled leader to a reluctant thief plays as heavily into the outcome of Boxcar Bertha as Bertha's own journey from naive daddy's girl to prostitute and ganger leader. And one can only be thankful that it does. Bertha is a disappointingly lame character, and Barbara Hershey isn't quite able to make her jump off the screen at us. David Carradine, meanwhile, performs with real gravitas. His character is very interesting; Without him, there might not be much reason to care. When the film focuses on Bill, or even when it splits time between he and Bertha, it's pretty engaging. Unfortunately, they're an ill-fated duo that spends as much time separated by circumstance as it does together. The film tends to grind to a halt during these sequences of separation. Ditto time spent with Rake and Von. Neither of these individuals is clearly motivated, making them seem more like tagalongs than anything else. Rake, especially, starts off with plenty of defined attributes and goals, but they never amount to anything. It's the kind of thing Scorsese never really does anymore, but this is his second film, and he's still working out the kinks of 90-minute-plus storytelling. That said, Boxcar Bertha (despite not exactly feeling like Scorsese's heart is into this in the same way) is a step up from his debut, Who's That Knocking at My Door. The cinematographic choices are occasionally fascinating, and the film's ending is a real doozy. What comes next is one of the director's most beloved features, so things won't ever really be the same. While that could be a tad sad in some instances (seeing small-scale director go big), there's no need to with Scorsese. Neither of his first two films holds a candle to his later works. http://www.johnlikesmovies.com/boxcar-bertha-review/

    The winsome harmonica that opens Martin Scorsese's second feature film, Boxcar Bertha, should be all the indication you need that it isn't the kind of movie we've come to expect from the king of the gangster flick. Boxcar Bertha is Southern-fried pulp through and through. From the characters' unmistakable drawl and the incessant sound of buzzing cicadas to the clingy sundresses to the gentlemanly suits and hats, the film is nothing if not a spot-on (though slightly overexaggerated) study of a time and place. But Boxcar Bertha has grander intentions. It's story is one of desperation and principles. To what end will a man stand up for what he believes in? And to what end should he? These are the questions Scorsese and company try to answer over a period of 90 minutes. They succeed to a degree, but the film isn't quite focused enough. Producer Roger Corman's influence is front and center as the film devolves into a sex-filled exercise in exploitation cinema, which distracts mightily from Boxcar Bertha's primary dramatic thrust. Barbara Hershey plays the film's titular character who, in the film's opening scene, is orphaned when her father-a crop duster-crashes his plane. She's consoled by a black man, Von Morton (Bernie Casey), and the head of the local union, Big Bill Shelly (David Carradine). Quickly, her relationship with Bill becomes sexual, but the two are separated, as Bill's union leadership puts him constantly at odds with the law. While separated, Bertha meets a Yankee, Rake Brown (Barry Primus), who fashions himself a con man, but isn't much more than a card cheat. She helps him with his Southern accent, and the two try to rip off a local railroad baron. But it goes disastrously wrong when the man starts talking about killing Big Bill. Bertha shoots the man, they track Bill down, and hitch a ride to safety on a boxcar. Later, the trio hooks up with Von, and this new group of four starts robbing uber-wealthy Southerners. Big Bill, however, doesn't like the practice. He fashions himself an honest man, and he wants to fight for justice without taking advantage. But the more these people are put up against it, the more acceptable their behavior feels. With a title like Boxcar Bertha, one would assume the focal point of the film would, in fact, be Bertha. That's a surprisingly debatable point. Big Bill's journey from a principled leader to a reluctant thief plays as heavily into the outcome of Boxcar Bertha as Bertha's own journey from naive daddy's girl to prostitute and ganger leader. And one can only be thankful that it does. Bertha is a disappointingly lame character, and Barbara Hershey isn't quite able to make her jump off the screen at us. David Carradine, meanwhile, performs with real gravitas. His character is very interesting; Without him, there might not be much reason to care. When the film focuses on Bill, or even when it splits time between he and Bertha, it's pretty engaging. Unfortunately, they're an ill-fated duo that spends as much time separated by circumstance as it does together. The film tends to grind to a halt during these sequences of separation. Ditto time spent with Rake and Von. Neither of these individuals is clearly motivated, making them seem more like tagalongs than anything else. Rake, especially, starts off with plenty of defined attributes and goals, but they never amount to anything. It's the kind of thing Scorsese never really does anymore, but this is his second film, and he's still working out the kinks of 90-minute-plus storytelling. That said, Boxcar Bertha (despite not exactly feeling like Scorsese's heart is into this in the same way) is a step up from his debut, Who's That Knocking at My Door. The cinematographic choices are occasionally fascinating, and the film's ending is a real doozy. What comes next is one of the director's most beloved features, so things won't ever really be the same. While that could be a tad sad in some instances (seeing small-scale director go big), there's no need to with Scorsese. Neither of his first two films holds a candle to his later works. http://www.johnlikesmovies.com/boxcar-bertha-review/

  • Nov 22, 2015

    A really interesting film from a new director at the time, Martin Scorsese. It is his take on Bonnie and Clyde and he does a great job with it. Barbra Hershey is amazing and David Carradine does a good job as well but Hershey is the shining star here. Great screenplay, direction, score, and sound design.

    A really interesting film from a new director at the time, Martin Scorsese. It is his take on Bonnie and Clyde and he does a great job with it. Barbra Hershey is amazing and David Carradine does a good job as well but Hershey is the shining star here. Great screenplay, direction, score, and sound design.

  • Sep 19, 2015

    Early Scorsese film which is not one of his best, but a interesting Roger Corman produced Bonnie and Clyde style exploitation flick which shows some of Scorsese's style that you would see more in his next flick after this, Mean Streets.

    Early Scorsese film which is not one of his best, but a interesting Roger Corman produced Bonnie and Clyde style exploitation flick which shows some of Scorsese's style that you would see more in his next flick after this, Mean Streets.