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With: Angie Dickinson, William Shatner, Tom Skerritt, Susan Sennett, Robbie Lee, Noble Willingham, Dick Miller, Tom Signorelli, Joan Prather, Royal Dano, Sally Kirkland, Paul Bartel
Written by: Frances Doel, William W. Norton
Directed by: Steve Carver
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 83
Date: 09/19/1974

Big Bad Mama (1974)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Mother Hood

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Roger Corman produced this lackadaisical, Robert Altman-like crime comedy, probably inspired both by Bonnie and Clyde and M*A*S*H. It's a free-spirited, hippie-era film -- with lots of nudity -- set in the depression era. A mother, Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson), and her two teen daughters, Billy Jean (Susan Sennett) and Polly (Robbie Lee) hit the road and begin a kind of unplanned crime spree. Their motivation is to "never be poor again." They team up with professional robber Fred Diller (Tom Skerritt) and then a kindly Southern hustler, William J. Baxter (William Shatner). Both men get to sleep with most of the women at some point. Directed by Steve Carver, Big Bad Mama lacks a driving force, and the lazy mood never seems quite right for the fiery story. But it has more than its share of jaw-dropping "B" movie moments, little jabs that most mainstream movies would never dare to try. Dickinson helps a great deal; she looks amazing and is in top form, combining tough and playful tones just as she did in Rio Bravo, but without a lot of silly men to get in her way. If it catches you in the right mood, Big Bad Mama can be a lot of fun.

DVD Details: In late 2005, Buena Vista acquired the Roger Corman collection and released a whole batch at once (The Big Doll House, Brain Dead, Caged Heat, Jackson County Jail, Suburbia, etc.). Big Bad Mama comes with atrailer, a commentary track, and a 15-minute making-of featurette. Thefilm is featured in full-screen aspect ratio, 1.33:1, which appears tobe wrong, since the film was shot on 35mm. Still, there's never anypoint at which information seems to be missing from the sides of thescreen.

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