EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|BIG BAD MAMA (director: Steve Carver; screenwriters: William W. Norton/Frances Doel; cinematographer: Bruce Logan; editor: Tina Hirsch; music: David Grisman; cast: Angie Dickinson (Wilma McClatchie), William Shatner (William J. Baxter), Tom Skerritt (Fred Diller), Susan Sennett (Billy Jean), Robbie Lee (Polly), Noble Willingham (Uncle Barney), Dick Miller (Bonney), Joan Prather (Jane Kingston), Royal Dano (Reverend Johnson), Sally Kirkland (Barney's woman), Tom Signorelli (Dodds), Dick Miller (Bonney); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Roger Corman; Buena Vista Home Entertainment; 1974)|
bad enough to be either bad or good."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A slapstick follow-up to the 1970 Roger Corman
directed and produced B-film moneymaker Bloody Mama.
Steve Carver ("The Arena"/"Capone"/"Drum") directs this lighthearted
cartoonish 'fugitives from justice' tale, that veers
on being an exploitation flick. It has a feisty Angie
Dickinson baring all to play a hard-bitten Ma Barker
type of character in this Depression-era caper.
Writers William W.
Norton and Frances Doel keep the plotline slight and
try to follow in the tracks of Bonnie and Clyde but
can never give it an arty edge.
In rural East Texas of
1932, Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) stops her
nitwit teenage daughter Polly (Robbie Lee) at the altar from marrying
a poor goofy redneck boy and flees the church with
Polly and her other pretty and smarter teenage
daughter Billy Jean (Susan Sennett) in tow. They
escape the attacking rednecks in the car of Uncle
Barney (Noble Willingham), the Lecherous old
bootlegger who is Wilma's lover. Chased by two
bumbling but relentless FBI agents (Dick Miller &
Tom Signorelli), Wilma forces them over the side of
the road but one of the agents kills Barney. The
destitute Mama takes over Barney's bootlegging
business, vowing to her girls they are never to be
poor again. But when she sees how difficult that will
be in East Texas (after paying off a sheriff to stay
in business), she flees with her daughters to
California and aims to take advantage of capitalism
like Ford, Rockefeller and Capone.
This leads the girl
trio to a roller coast ride of criminal activities
that includes robbing at gunpoint a veteran's club
that hired Mama's daughters to be exotic dancers,
robbing a charlatan evangelist preacher (Royal Dano),
robbing a bank, a daring armed heist of a racetrack, a
jewel theft, and kidnapping for ransom the bratty rich
daughter (Joan Prather) of a company head. During the
bank robbery, Mama hooks up with bank robber Fred
Diller (Tom Skerritt). Then while Diller's still
around, she hooks up with the slimy southern con man
Baxter (William Shatner). This leads to a messy love
triangle, whereas both daughters have affairs with
The film is not bad
enough to be either bad or good. It tries to win you
over with much nudity, fast moving action sequences,
plenty of violence and a simplistic caricature of the
'woman on the run' crime genre. It works in fits and
starts, and overall has some low-level entertainment
REVIEWED ON 3/14/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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