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Bloody Mama (1970)

A psychologically-disturbed matriarch presides over her damaged family of bank-robbing misfits.

Director:

Roger Corman

Writers:

Don Peters (story), Robert Thom (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Shelley Winters ... 'Ma' Kate Barker
Pat Hingle ... Sam Adams Pendlebury
Don Stroud ... Herman Barker
Diane Varsi ... Mona Gibson
Bruce Dern ... Kevin Dirkman
Clint Kimbrough Clint Kimbrough ... Arthur Barker
Robert De Niro ... Lloyd Barker
Robert Walden ... Fred Barker
Alex Nicol ... George Barker
Pamela Dunlap ... Rembrandt
Michael Fox ... Dr. Roth
Scatman Crothers ... Moses (as 'Scatman' Crothers)
Stacy Harris ... Agent McClellan
Lisa Linsky Lisa Linsky ... Young Kate (as Lisa Jill)
Steve Mitchell Steve Mitchell ... Sheriff
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Storyline

A psychological gangster film based on fact. Machine gun totin' Ma Barker lead her family gang (her sons) on a crime spree in the Depression era. Her loyal brood have every perversion imaginable. The sadistic Herman sleeps with his Ma. When Fred Barker is released from prison, he brings home his cellmate and lover Kevin Dirkman, who also sleeps with Ma, much to Fred's chagrin. Lloyd Barker is a spaced-out drug addict who sniffs glue if nothing better is around. Ma kidnaps happy-go-lucky millionaire Sam Adams Pendlebury and holds him for ransom. Arthur Barker, Ma's wallflower son, and Herman's hooker lady friend Mona Gibson also figure in the story. The bloody finale is virtually choreographed, and a visual stunner. Filmed in the Ozarks. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Say it with bullets! See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 August 1970 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Bloody Mama - gangsterfamilien Barker See more »

Filming Locations:

Little Rock, Arkansas, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Ryder Sound Services)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shelley Winters was such an extreme method actress that she spent the entire evening before the grave scene at a funeral parlor staring at a real corpse in a coffin convincing herself she was staring at her dead son, in addition to listening to loud opera just before shooting a scene to work herself up emotionally, and throwing a very real wine bottle at Lloyd (Robert De Niro) in order to make him cry. See more »

Goofs

In the prison cell when Freddie is walking on Dirkman's back, if you look on the cell wall behind him, you'll see graffiti of a Nazi swastika on the wall. The movie takes place circa 1930 and the Nazi symbol didn't even exist (at least in America's consciousness) until the late 1930's-1940's. Correction: The swastika was used as good luck symbol long before the Nazis. It was a common Native American symbol of good fortune and was on the official patch of the 45th Infantry Division of the US Army prior to 1930. So it's use as graffiti is not impossible. See more »

Quotes

'Ma' Kate Barker: It's supposed to be a free country Mona. But unless you're rich, you ain't free and you know that. So I aim to be freer than the rest of the people.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was originally rejected for a UK cinema certificate by the BBFC and then released 8 months later in 1971 with cuts to nudity, violent beatings, a rape scene, the drowning of Rembrandt, Lloyd's injection scenes and the violent shooting of Herman. The 18-rated UK video release of this film was cut by 11 seconds by the BBFC and removes the scene where Bruce Dern drops a tethered piglet into a river to use as alligator bait. The cuts were fully waived for the 2009 Optimum DVD. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Serial Mom (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Bloody Mama
Written by Don Randi, Guy Hemric and Bob Silver
Performed by Bigfoot
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Barker Family Values
14 April 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Though Bloody Mama has very little to do with Ma Barker and the four fine strapping sons she raised, the film provides Shelley Winters with a role she can overact to her heart's content and no one would notice this side of a slasher flick. It's part that I wish Shelley had done in a more factual retelling of the Barker saga.

She gave her four sons played by Don Stroud, Clint Kimbrough, Robert Walden, and Robert DeNiro the lack of character and amoral view of life that led them to become criminals, she herself simply went along for the ride on their criminal enterprises. She was far from the mastermind that Shelley Winters is shown to be.

This was one of Robert DeNiro's first parts where he was noticed. You can see traces of later redneck characters that he did in films like This Boy's Life and Cape Fear in his portrayal of Lloyd Barker, the youngest Barker sibling. By the way Lloyd in real life did not end up the way he's shown in the film.

Other parts of significance are Bruce Dern as a character modeled on Alvin 'Creepy' Karpis who was part of the Barker story, but is not mentioned at all here. Another is Pat Hingle playing a kidnap victim of the gang's and a third is Diane Varsi who marries one of the Barker sons.

Roger Corman who produced and directed Bloody Mama gave Shelley Winters a great part and she ran with it. Even though the film is far from the truth about the Barkers, it does show the values those boys had and where they got them.


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