A young woman and a union leader become the leaders of a
gang to take down the railroads during the Great Depression.
Boxcar Bertha (1972)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by Joyce Hooper Corrington and John William Corrington
Starring Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, Barry Primus,
Bernie Casey, John Carradine
Based on the book Sister of the Road by Ben L. Reitman
Early in his career, Martin Scorsese (obviously) showed great promise as a storyteller with a unique vision. It wasn't until probably Taxi Driver that he became the iconic filmmaker he is today. But the films leading up to Taxi Driver were still interesting and worth checking out. Boxcar Bertha is essentially just Bonnie and Clyde with much more relatable lead characters. It wasn't well-received, and isn't counted among his best, but it's a decent flick that shows a budding filmmaker trying his damndest.
In the Great Depression, Bertha (Hershey) loses her father in a plane crash and hooks up with union leader and possible Russian spy Big Bill Shelly (Carradine). Bertha and Bill form a gang with Northern conman Rake Brown (Primus) and black muscle Von (Casey), with plans to rob and sabotage the railroads until they bow to the unions. Along the way, Bertha has an adventure that helps her discover who she is as a person. While the film does drag at times, it's got a decent enough story to keep your interest, and the characters help.
Boxcar Bertha shines a light on Depression-era politics and the pushback on unions. The cast is admirable, and the ending is pretty damn satisfying. I don't really understand where the hate comes from. I've seen worse from Scorsese.