Boxcar Bertha

Rated R 88 minutes

It's a pity that Martin Scorsese, making his first Hollywood film for Roger Corman in 1972, didn't take advantage of the extraordinary memoir of the same title about Bertha Thompson, a radical during the early 20th century who spent much of her life on boxcars. (The shards of this source that remain are barely recognizable.) What we get instead is Scorsese obliquely sketching out a few of his basic themes in a Bonnie and Clyde knock-off about a union organizer turned train robber (David Carradine) and a female hobo (Barbara Hershey) during the Depression, complete with a climactic crucifixion of sorts. But it's not done in a way that suggests a fully formed talent—"promising juvenilia" is about the most one can say for it. With Barry Primus, Bernie Casey, and John Carradine.

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