Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Quick Film Review--Boxcar Bertha (1972)

1. The skill of one Martin Scorsese is really on display here. Not that the movie is really that great. It's not. It's an exploitation movie produced by Roger Corman. So you would expect it to be bad. And in some ways it is. The supporting acting is terrible. There are enough wooden lines to build a house. It's definitely an exploitation film. But Scorsese turns what should be a terrible movie into a kind of good one. It certainly helps that he found real actors to star in the film (Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, John Carradine). But in lesser hands, this would have been like most other Corman movies. Instead, it's actually worth watching 34 years later.

2. Race issues are seriously misplayed in this movie and Scorsese probably should have known better, even in 1972. There is no way, and I mean no fucking way, that the black man in the movie could be going around with Bertha in the South of the 1930s and not have problems. And when I mean problems, I mean lynching. Now, I know this is a Roger Corman movie and we shouldn't look at Roger Corman movies for any kind of sociological analysis. But still, this is kind of important. Among working-class urban people in the cities, there might be some interaction, but it was all very risky for the black man involved. In the countryside? I don't think so.