Combustible Celluloid
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With: Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, Barry Primus, Bernie Casey
Written by: Joyce H. Corrington, John William Corrington, based on the autobiography of Boxcar Bertha as told to Dr. Ben L. Reitman
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 88
Date: 06/13/1972

Boxcar Bertha (1972)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Crime Time

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The greatest living American filmmaker and as yet unchallenged, Scorsese is still best known for his violent tough guy movies with Robert De Niro, even though those titles only make up seven of his 22 feature films to date. Now one of the most obscure Scorsese titles makes its way to DVD (MGM/UA, $19.98) for those who want to take a closer look at the man's towering talent. Boxcar Bertha was Scorsese's second film, and his first financed by a real film studio -- even though that studio was run by "B" movie monger Roger Corman and the film was made for peanuts. Corman gave Scorsese complete control provided he added in the proper exploitation elements, i.e. violence and nudity. Barbara Hershey stars as the title character, an innocent girl who turns bad after her father dies and she falls in with the wrong crowd.

Scorsese hadn't developed a personal vision yet, but a few moments during the heat of battle reveal a lively, playful camera. Not to mention the on-target performances by Hershey and her co-stars David Carradine, Barry Primus and Bernie Casey.

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