GenreCrime, Drama, Romance Budget600,000 USD CountryUnited States
Release dateJune 14, 1972 Based onSister of the Road
by Ben L. Reitman WriterBen L. Reitman (book), Joyce Hooper Corrington (screenplay), John William Corrington (screenplay) CastBarbara Hershey (Boxcar Bertha), David Carradine (Big Bill Shelly), Barry Primus (Rake Brown), Bernie Casey (Von Morton), John Carradine (H. Buckram Sartoris), Victor Argo (McIver #1) Similar moviesSilver Linings Playbook, Lolita, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Under the Tuscan Sun, Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress, Snow Angels
TaglineLife made her an outcast. Love made her an outlaw.
Boxcar bertha official trailer 1 john carradine movie 1972 hd
Boxcar Bertha is a 1972 American romantic crime drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a loose adaptation of Sister of the Road, a pseudo-autobiographical account of the fictional character Bertha Thompson, written by Ben L. Reitman. It was Scorsese's second feature film.
The film tells the story of Bertha Thompson (played by Barbara Hershey) and "Big" Bill Shelly (played by David Carradine), two train robbers and lovers who are caught up in the plight of railroad workers in the American South. When Bertha is implicated in the murder of a wealthy gambler, the pair become fugitives.
Barbara Hershey as Boxcar Bertha
David Carradine as Big Bill Shelly
Barry Primus as Rake Brown
Bernie Casey as Von Morton
John Carradine as H. Buckram Sartoris
Harry Northup as Harvey Hall
Victor Argo as First McIver
After the success of Bloody Mama, Roger Corman wanted to make another female gangster film. Julie Corman researched female gangsters and came across the story of Boxcar Bertha. Martin Scorsese was hired to direct on the strength of his first feature. He was given the lead actors, including Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, and Barry Primus, and a shooting schedule of 24 days in Arkansas. The Reader Railroad was used for the train scenes.
The locomotive in those scenes was 1920 Baldwin 2-6-2 #108, who later saw service on the Conway Scenic Railroad in the late 1970s. It's currently at the Blacklands Railroad awaiting restoration. Locomotive #1702, a USATC S160 2-8-0 built by Baldwin in 1942, was also seen in the film as well. The locomotive is now operational at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
Scorsese makes a cameo in the film as one of Bertha's clients during the brothel montage.
Hershey later called the film "a lot of fun even though it's terribly crippled by Roger Corman and the violence and sex. But between the actors and Marty Scorsese the director, we had a lot of fun. We really had characters down but one tends to not see all that, because you end up seeing all the blood and sex."
Boxcar Bertha received mixed reviews from critics. It holds a rating of 48% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 21 reviews.