Blu-ray Review: BOXCAR BERTHA


BOXCAR BERTHA was directed by Martin Scorsese, written By Joyce H. Corrington and John Corrington, and stars Barbara Hershey, David Carradine, Barry Primus, Bernie Casey, John Carradine, and Victor Argo. The score is by Gib Gilbeau and Thad Maxwell.

The movie takes place in the south during the Depression-era 1930’s and follows the adventures of Bertha Thompson (Barbara Hershey), who meets, and falls for, union organizer “Big” Bill Shelly (David Carradine). The two free spirits hit the road, or in this case the tracks, where they live their young lives on the edge. The two small time criminals follow the tracks from town to town, robbing unsuspecting people on trains, in stores, and anywhere else they feel the urge to take what they want. Simply put, they do whatever it takes to survive and they have fun doing it.


Martin Scorsese’s second feature loosely adapts the autobiography of Bertha Thompson who falls for “Big” Bill Shelly but the two never really get a chance at a real relationship because of the dangerous lifestyle they’ve chosen. They end up getting separated which lands Bill in jail where he gets way over his head after an escape attempt goes wrong. He escapes okay, but it’s the people he escapes from that comes back to haunt him. Bertha finds herself a new home working as a prostitute but she never loses hope that one day she’ll be reunited with her lover. The doomed lovers do finally reunite but unfortunately it’s short-lived because Bill’s past finally catches up with him and the people that have been chasing him down dishes out some extreme prejudice in the tragic finale.


The front of the packaging features the artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve includes some alternate artwork. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the reverse sleeve. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about Boxcar Bertha by Julie Kirgo and the original theatrical poster on the back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio. A job well done by Twilight Time considering the obscurity of this 1972 film.

Bottom line is, Boxcar Bertha was another first time watch for me that ended up being a really thrilling and entertaining action-thriller. Roger Corman produced this second film from Martin Scorsese so it definitely has this exploitation B-movie vibe going for it, but it’s also a movie that offers so much more. It’s true, this is the one and only time Corman and Scorsese collaborated and this little gem has a lot of heart. The tragic story was really interesting and the movie itself was this fast-paced and exciting character driven thriller. The movie has its fair share of violence so there’s some blood to go along with that but it’s countered nicely with its softer side that includes some exploitative nudity. The Depression-era  30’s was a dangerous time to live in and the grittiness and violence is captured really well by Scorsese. The acting was really good and I think this is the first time I’ve watched a film starring a really young Barbara Hershey who is still drop dead gorgeous to this very day. I really enjoyed this movie! This Blu-ray has a limited edition of 3,000 units and is worth adding to your Twlight Time collection.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 89 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features:

  • Isolated Score Track
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (02:30)



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