Big Bad Mama (1974)

Big Bad Mama (1974)

“In business, you’ve gotta think big or think fast.”

After preventing one of her daughters (Robbie Lee) from getting married, a Depression-era mother (Angie Dickinson) goes on the run with her and her other daughter (Susan Sennett), eventually joining forces with a bank robber (Tom Skerritt) and a Southern con-man (William Shatner) who vie for all three women’s affections.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Angie Dickinson Films
  • Depression Era
  • Dick Miller Films
  • Outlaws
  • Roger Corman Films
  • Single Mothers
  • Strong Females

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary isn’t a fan of this exploitation film about a woman “and her two sluttish teenage daughters” who “become bank robbers and kidnappers so they can someday reach the criminal-rich level of ‘Ford, Rockefeller, Capone, and all the rest of them.'”

He notes that “in between the frequent sex scenes… there is much gunplay and many car chases,” not to mention “too much rude language and fake feminism” — and he points out that while this New World Productions flick was made as a “throwback to… Corman-directed fifties gangster films” such as The Bonnie Parker Story and Machine Gun Kelly,” “those pictures had an innocent quality” while this film is simply “embarrassingly vulgar.”

I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s assessment — though I don’t take quite as much offense at it. As critic Richard Harlan Smith writes in his review for TCM, “the film’s capital asset is its sense of the absurd”: it’s “only superficially a gangster tale” given that it also maintains “one foot in the exploitation subgenres of Southern farce and rural revenge”. Fans of such films will want to give it a look, but others can feel free to skip it. Watch for Dick Miller (naturally!) in a bit role.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine period detail

Must See?
No; this one isn’t must-see.


One thought on “Big Bad Mama (1974)

  1. First viewing (11/27/20). Not must-see.

    Yet another Depression-era, on-the-lam-from-the-law flick. Standard stuff; as such, it’s not all that engaging. As BBM herself, Dickinson has about two emotions but she does agree to a couple of brief nude scenes (others in the cast are not shy in that area). Still, she’s surprisingly lackluster.

    As a police officer following Dickinson, (always-good-to-see) Dick Miller’s continuity makes no sense. Things plod along, with a fair amount of gun violence.

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