Country: United States
Director: Steve Carver
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
The best way to give you an idea of what Big Bad Mama is like is to compare it to Bonnie & Clyde, which I trust all of you have seen. (Anyone who hasn’t, stop reading this review, get hold of a copy of Bonnie & Clyde and watch it right away. For anyone who loves trash cinema, or just movies in general, being familiar with Bonnie & Clyde is compulsory.)
As you recall, the first half an hour or so of Bonnie & Clyde was fun and games and then a sense of doom gradually pervaded the picture. In Big Bad Mama, that moment never comes. Big Bad Mama is all fun. Sure, plenty of people get shot, but director Steve Carver never shows the pain. There’s no equivalent to the moment in Bonnie & Clyde when the bank clerk gets shot point blank in the eye. In a laughably clumsy moment, there’s a reprise of the loving glance between Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow that ends the earlier picture, but it plays almost like an in-joke.
Unlike Bonnie Parker, Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) isn’t a bored girl looking for excitement. She’s a tough-as-nails beauty who’s determined that her girls aren’t going to grow up poor and get stuck with a half dozen snotty babies and a drunk husband who can’t get work. Angie Dickinson is delightful here. She’s got a great comic delivery while never winking at the audience. Plus, she’s sexy as hell and she generously gives us plenty of chances to ogle her spectacular body.
Adding more eye candy are her daughters, Billy Jean (Susan Sennett) and Polly (Robbie Lee), who both look to be about 15 years old, and get nekkid early and often. Scriptwriters William W. Norton and Frances Doel even have a kidnap victim disrobe in order to distract her kidnapper.
There’s plenty of action, with enough machine gun fire and bullet squibs to keep action junkies from falling asleep.
For an exploitation flick of this type, the cast is top notch. Besides Dickinson, Tom Skerritt shows up as a bank robber who ends up joining Dickinson’s crime family. When Dickinson ditches Skerritt for William Shatner, who plays a cowardly grifter, her daughters pounce on the leftovers. (Big Bad Mama is that kind of movie, bless it’s tawdry little heart.)
Also appearing in smaller roles are such wonderful character actors as Noble Willingham, Royal Dano, and William O’Connell.
I should mention that the score by David Grisman is terrific, helping the filmmakers achieve a hardscrabble pseudo authenticity on a beer budget.
As a bonus, there’s even a couple of amusing swipes at rich folk trying to undermine the New Deal and progressive taxation. Some things never change, I guess.
Big Bad Mama is a heck of a lot of fun. Put it this way. I had a smile plastered on my face pretty much the entire running time.