Martin Scorsese directed Barbara Hershey as Boxcar Bertha and David Carradine as Big Bill Shelley in this unconvincing Depression-era saga.
Set mainly in railyards dotted around America, the story tells of a rabble-rousing unionist who robs trains and plans kidnappings with the aid of Boxcar Bertha. When Big Bill is finally caught, Bertha turns, in desperation, to prostitution.
The unconvincing storyline is coupled with equally unconvincing acting (although Hershey publicly announced that she and Carradine filmed the movie’s sex scenes “without having to fake anything.”)
When he finished this film, Scorsese screened it for John Cassavetes who hugged Scorsese after seeing it and said, “Marty, you’ve just spent a whole year of your life making a piece of shit. It’s a good picture, but you’re better than the people who make this kind of movie. Don’t get hooked into the exploitation market, just try and do something different.”
Scorsese’s next film was Mean Streets (1973)
Big Bill Shelley
H. Buckram Sartoris