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Bloody Mama Review

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'Ma' Barker and her sons go on a crime spree in Depression era America.

★★★★

A lurid gothic gangster psychodrama from Roger Corman, this is Shelley Winters’ finest hour-and-a-half, cast as Arizona Clark ‘Ma’ Barker, a role it would be impossible to overplay. Wielding a Tommy gun and frothing at the mouth, she’s the ultimate smothering mother to her four bizarro sons, cajoling them through a 1930s crime spree.

Don Stroud is the most (nearly) normal Barker, a young Robert De Niro mainlines heroine, and Bruce Dern shows up as the gay son’s prison boyfriend who gets passed on to mama. It has moments which go beyond camp into dementia, as when Winters serenades her family with I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier, or Stroud fudges a kidnapping by becoming obsessed with the unseen eyes of a blindfolded victim.

Slightly depraved at times but without a doubt Shelley Winters on toppest fo form.

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