Bloody Mama finally makes it's appearance on DVD as part of The Roger Corman Collection.
Bloody Mama was part of the last group of movies that Roger Corman, as noted occasionally, my idol, handled as a director.
The movie is led by a tour de force performance by Shelley Winters as Kate "Ma" Barker. Supported by Don Stroud, Robert Walden, Robert De Niro and Clint Kimbrough as her sons, she chews her way through one of the juiciest roles ever written.
Bruce Dern also appears as a gang member and presumed homosexual lover of Fred Barker. Even with a cast like that, the movie is nearly stolen from beneath them by a deft and sensitive Pat Hingle as millionaire Samuel Adams Pendlebury, who I'm guessing is a composite of various rich men kidnapped by the Barker-Karpis Gang during that time.
Mind you, it's the kind of movie that rightly should work. It never decides if it's a serious crime movie, a goofy action romp, a political tract, a character study; instead bouncing between them like a ball through a pinball machine. For some, I suspect that comes across as what critics, occasionally even this one, call "uneven", but somehow it's invested with so much energy and an odd manic honesty that I find compelling and marvelously entertaining all the way through.
It's too bad this comes without a new Corman commentary. I've quite enjoyed his commentaries and this one seems noteworthy enough to have more than justified it. I'm left curious if it's MGM's disinterest or Corman's unavailability in this case. It is good to have a nice DVD finally, even if it is more than a little lacking for extras.