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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Big Bad Mama
Big Bad Mama
New Concorde // R // April 30, 2002
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted June 12, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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P R I N T
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Roger Corman has been responsible for a lot of movies, some more memorable than others. While Big Bad Mama might have faded into obscurity as the Butch Cassidy - Bonnie and Clyde rip-off that it was, the film has maintained its status as an exploitation classic thanks to Corman's casting of Angie Dickinson as the titular anti-hero. The film itself, a sloppy loop of shoot-outs, strip-teases, and car-chases, doesn't work too hard to show us anything we haven't already seen. It's Dickinson's performance, however, that really pulls it together.

As the depression-era Wilma McClatchie, she has a toughness and vitality that few female - or male for that matter - action characters can approach. She'll hoist a tommy gun to her hip as sure as she'll seduce a man to get what she needs. What can you say about a character that sleeps with both Tom Skeritt and William Shatner within half-an-hour of one movie?

The story itself is classic: Wilma breaks up the marriage of one of her daughters Polly (Robbie Lee) and a poor, honest farmer-type. Looking for greener pastures she throws her other daughter Billy Jean (Susan Sennett), Polly, and Uncle Barney (Noble Willingham) in a car and hauls ass out of town. After a gunfight leaves poor Barney dead, Wilma tries to pick up the family bootlegging business. Once she meets Skerritt's Fred Diller she enters the world of bank robbery. Eventually Shatner's Baxter, a small-time hustler with big-time style, enters the picture. The group becomes a ratty, make-shift family with dueling father figures and two uncontrollable daughters. The film manages to explore family dynamics and emotions and still have plenty of time for gratuitous nudity and banjo-scored shootouts. What could be better?

VIDEO:
The full-frame video shows the age and damage typical of a low-budget film from a company like Corman's. Still, it looks pretty good, all things considered, with the grainy, dusty cinematography adding to the toughness of the film.

AUDIO:
The mono audio is decent, with most dialog clear and understandable. The frantic finger-picking on the score is perfect.

EXTRAS:
An interview with Corman conducted by Leornard Maltin (standard for Corman's releases) is interesting. Corman always has a bit of a twinkle in his eye when he talks about his cinematic mischief and Maltin is game.

The disc also includes a selection of Corman trailers. It's not as jam-packed as some other Corman releases like Rock n' Roll High School, but for the price it can't be beat.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Big Bad Mama may be a camp classic but it has a heart. Angie Dickinson's outrageous performance rules the roost and, with assists from Shatner, Skerritt, and the rest of the cast, makes this film a must see for fans of the genre.

Email Gil Jawetz at buskerdog@yahoo.com

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