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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than it ought to be
I consider myself well schooled in low budget schlock from various film genres. Watching cheesy films is an acquired taste, one not easily cultivated overnight. Even with some knowledge about who makes these types of films under my belt, I still stumble over major contributors to the clunker movie catalogue and wonder why I haven't spent time with these delicacies before...
Published on September 1, 2004 by Jeffrey Leach

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grindhouse gangstress
Big Bad Mama is the archetypal Roger Corman 70s b-movie, with the monsters and sci-fi of the 50s and 60s replaced by plentiful low-budget action, tongue-in-cheek humor and mandatory nudity from almost every actress in the cast in a fast-moving Depression-era backroads gangster flick. Angie Dickinson is the Ma Barker figure tryin' to do right by her two gals, stumbling her...
Published on January 18, 2008 by Trevor Willsmer


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than it ought to be, September 1, 2004
This review is from: Big Bad Mama (DVD)
I consider myself well schooled in low budget schlock from various film genres. Watching cheesy films is an acquired taste, one not easily cultivated overnight. Even with some knowledge about who makes these types of films under my belt, I still stumble over major contributors to the clunker movie catalogue and wonder why I haven't spent time with these delicacies before now. Roger Corman is my latest discovery. I admit I have heard of Corman before in reference to the spate of Vincent Price horror classics that emerged in the 1960s, along with a few other films he made over the course of his career, but until now I never saw many of them. This guy is a giant of the low budget film, producing or directing some 500 plus movies in the last forty years. He's still going strong as far as I know, and never limits his output to one particular genre; he's made westerns, horror, action, drama, and science fiction films with seeming ease. Moreover, according to the bio on this DVD, Corman helped launch the careers of numerous Hollywood bigwigs. If "Big Bad Mama" is any indication, I will continue to spend a lot of time with this filmmaker's projects in the near future.

"Big Bad Mama" is a sort of feminist reinterpretation of those movies about Depression era highway outlaws; it's "Bonny and Clyde" with lipstick and long tresses. Angie Dickinson plays Wilma McClatchie, a mule headed, dirt poor Texas woman with a temper and a desire to better her conditions. Life hasn't been easy for Wilma, not with two young daughters to raise in a ramshackle cabin out in the sticks. What's a woman to do during these tough times? Why, strike up a relationship with local bootlegger Barney (Noble Willingham), of course! But when the wedding ceremony of one of Wilma's daughters goes horribly awry, and Barney perishes in a shootout, Wilma is left holding several unpleasant bags. The Feds involved in bringing down Barney, led by Bonney (Richard Smith), now set their sights on Wilma and her kids. Unfortunately, McClatchie plays right into their hands by taking over Barney's illicit liquor operation. At some point, Wilma decides she's had enough of being poor and decides to hit the road in search of ill-gotten gains. She takes her two lascivious daughters, Polly (Robbie Lee) and Billy Jean (Susan Sennett), along for the ride. And why not? If you're going to embark on a crime spree, you may as well make it a family affair.

Problem is, Wilma cannot escape the lure of sleazy, good for nothing men. She first hooks up with wanted criminal Fred Diller (Tom Skerritt), and quickly consummates their partnership the old fashioned way. Then conman extraordinaire William Baxter (William Shatner) enters the picture, and Wilma brings him into the fold as well. The resulting jealousy between Diller and Baxter, along with a most unusual relationship struck up between Diller and Wilma's daughters, will certainly lead to dangerous tensions within the gang. Despite these internal stresses, Wilma continues to plot the next big score. The gang finally stumbles upon the perfect scheme; they will infiltrate a soiree thrown by a bunch of rich folks and kidnap one of them. McClatchie and her compatriots succeed in abducting Jane Kingston (Joan Prather), but the plan fouls up when Diller decides to get up close and personal with the hapless heiress. Then Baxter pulls a fast one. Then the cops and the G-men close in. Cue gunfire and crashing cars. Roll credits. Who will live and who will perish? Surprisingly, you'll actually care about the answer to that question while watching "Big Bad Mama."

I've seen several Corman classics now, and "Big Bad Mama" ranks as one of the better ones. First, you've got a solid cast filling all the main roles. Dickinson not only looks fantastic, but she believably portrays a poor woman looking out for her own with nothing to lose. Tom Skerritt, an actor I've never liked in anything, actually manages to avoid annoying me as the murderous and jealous Fred Diller. As for Shatner, well, he's probably at his most restrained here in a role requiring him to talk softly in oily tones. I got a kick out of the daughters. Both of them are so far over the top that you can't help but laugh at their antics. Be sure and keep an eye open for their dancing routine at the local veteran's get together. Is anyone as dense as these two airheads? Guess so. Thankfully, the performances unfold against the second important element that makes "Big Bad Mama" a lot of fun, namely the film's great atmosphere. While I imagine plenty of anachronisms plague the movie, I thought the 1930s props looked way better than I expected to see in a low budget picture. Finally, you really do get an opportunity to see Angie Dickinson take a few risks, so to speak, but you'll miss it if you blink. Considering what the actress had to do in the role, I'm surprised she took the part when she was still a player in Hollywood.

The DVD is standard a standard Roger Corman release. You get the obligatory short interview with Leonard Maltin, and a bunch of trailers. A sequel to "Big Bad Mama," unoriginally entitled "Big Bad Mama II," came out roughly ten years later. While I haven't seen the sequel, which apparently once again stars Angie Dickinson, I can say that the first film is a lot of fun. Great performances, bountiful skin, a sleazy attitude, and wonderfully realistic atmosphere makes this Corman classic a must see for B movie fans.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Campy Fun, December 29, 2005
By 
David Baldwin (Philadelphia,PA USA) - See all my reviews
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From the retrospective included on the disc you get the impression that star Angie Dickinson thought she was making high art. I'm not so sure Roger Corman thought so. The film seems to have a split personality. Stars Dickinson, Tom Skerritt, and William Shatner play their characters pretty straight to the vest. The script, however, suggests a parody of "Bonnie and Clyde" with alot of comic violence and gunplay and humorously gratuitous nudity. I did enjoy the contributions of the young actresses playing Dickinson's daughters, Susan Sennett and Robbie Lee. I purchased this film expecting some trashy fun and it did deliver the goods.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big Bad Mama 1 & 2 review, December 5, 2011
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Paul Kao (Sacramento, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Big Bad Mama / Big Bad Mama II (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) (DVD)
Not everyone likes Angie Dickenson, but if you do and you want to see her naked, get Big Bad Mama. She's naked with both Tom Skerrit and with William Shatner in this film. Several other actresses are nude, too.

Angie uses a body double in Big Bad Mama 2, but there are flashbacks of her nude scene with William Shatner in it. What makes 2 worthwhile is the nude Danielle Brisbois, who played a young girl in Archie Bunker's Place on a TV series. Both movies come on the same disk with several extras, so if you want both movies and are tight on shelf space, this is the DVD to get.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prosperity was just around the corner...at the nearest bank!, December 17, 2005
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Big business can make for strange bedfellows as is the case here, with the recently re-released film Big Bad Mama (1974). Seems not too long ago The Walt Disney Corporation, through their Buena Vista Home Entertainment group, acquired the rights to release onto DVD some 400 Roger Corman films, including this one...if you're not familiar with Roger Corman, he probably the single, largest producer of low-budget exploitation films in the last 50 years, features someone generally wouldn't associate with the Walt Disney image. Produced by Corman, co-written by William W. Norton (White Lightning, I Dismember Mama) and Frances Doel (Deathsport, DinoCroc), and directed by Steve Carver (Lone Wolf McQuade), the film stars Angie Dickinson, who first made an impression on me as Sgt. Suzanne "Pepper" Anderson in the mid to late 1970s television series "Police Woman". Also appearing is William `The Shat' Shatner ("Star Trek", Kingdom of the Spiders), Tom Skerritt (MASH, Alien), Susan Sennett (The Candy Snatchers), Robbie Lee (Switchblade Sisters), Noble Willingham (The Last Picture Show), Dick Miller (X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes), Tom Signorelli (The Cotton Club), Royal Dano (Killer Klowns from Outer Space), William O'Connell (Every Which Way But Loose), and Joan Prather, whom some may remember from the television series "Eight Is Enough", as Janet McArthur Bradford.

The movie, set in the depression era south, begins as we see three women, one older, two younger, heading to church. Seems recent widower Wilma McClatchie (Dickinson) is taking her two daughters, Billy Jean (Sennett) and Polly (Lee) to the church as Polly done got herself engaged to a dirt farmer. The trio arrives, met by skeezy Uncle Barney (Willingham), a bootlegger by trade, shortly followed by the groom, showing up on the back of a truck...I must say, he's quite the prize pig...anyway, Wilma seems unhappy with her youngest daughter's choice in men, and promptly puts the kibosh on the affair in the middle of the nuptials, as she decides she wants better for her girls. A good, old fashioned ruckus ensues, and the three women, along with Uncle Barney, skedaddle...right into a trap set by a lawman named Bonney (Miller), who's been chasing Barney the bootlegger for some time. There's a car chase, and Barney ends up with a terminal case of lead poisoning, to which Wilma decides to take over the business, thus beginning her life of crime. After the bottom falls out of her moonshine business (thanks to a corrupt local sheriff), Wilma and her girls, who are about as ripe as Georgia peaches, fleece a crooked preacher, and then get tangled up with a bank robbery, eventually taking on one of the robbers, named Fred Diller (Skerritt), as a partner, in more ways than one, if you know what I mean...homina, homina...Wilma, deciding it wise never to pull the same caper more than once, decides their next score will be a race track, where they meet Captain Kirk...er, I mean William J. Baxter (Shatner), an upper-class hustler, resulting in another partnership, along with more of Ms. Dickenson doffing her clothes...set phasers on stunning! Anyhoo, the group makes their way west, to California, with Sheriff Bonney hot on their heels, and Wilma comes up with one last big score, involving kidnapping a comely, yet snooty, heiress (Prather) and ransoming her off for a million bucks...but jealousies threaten to tear the group apart, along with their ever increasing notoriety.

I've seen plenty of exploitation films in my time, but few do them as well as Roger Corman. That's not to say his touch is always gold, but he usually manages to finagle more than most of out so very little. I think the one aspect about this production that elevates it to the upper echelons within the B movie realm is the strong and capable cast, especially Ms. Dickenson, who, in her forties at the time, looked better than the females half her age appearing in this film, and that's not to say they were hard on the eyes (the actress playing Polly seemed to have the most difficult time keeping her top on). She provided an exceptionally strong, intelligent, determined female character, one who knew what she wanted, and knew how to get it...overall I really enjoyed this gangster drama with a feminine twist. Director Carver keeps story moving along well, which included predictable twists, exciting car chase and gunplay sequences, along with a whole lot of freaky deaky...check out the scenes where Tom Skerritt's character, after getting replaced as Wilma's bed warmer by The Shat's character, hooks up with her daughters, in a creepy. Southern fried threesome. And then there's the scene near the end when Skerrit's character is seduced by the kidnapped heiress (in an attempt by her to escape), and The Shat creepily watches on from the doorway...but never fear, The Shat does get his groove on in one, particularly revealing scene with Ms. Dickenson...thankfully, for myself at least, his nekkidness is covered up by her nekidness (actually, Ms. Dickenson has about three or four gratuitous nekkid scenes, if you're looking for that kind of thing). As far as the acting goes, its better than I expected, given the amount of experience in the cast, both in recognizable actors and character actors. And how could you not like a script that features lines like this? "Uncle Barney...was you trying to feel up my Mama?" Oh Uncle Barney...whotta sleaze...the story is decent enough, as there seemed to be attempts to flesh out the various relationships, but it never really went to far which was good because that really wasn't something I was looking for in a movie like this...another aspect I really liked was the ending, as I thought it a great way to wrap things up.

The fullscreen (1.33:1) picture on this DVD release looks decent, but does show some signs of age. I'm betting the quality here is the same as the previous DVD release, so if you own that, and that's all you care about, there probably isn't much reason to be sucked in by this `Special Edition' release. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is decent enough, with no complaints. As far as extras, there is a featurette titled `Mama Knows Best: A Retrospective' (14:38), that includes Corman, Dickenson, The Shat, and a number of people involved with the film discussing their experiences, all looking quite old and crusty. Also included is a commentary track with Corman and Dickenson, and a rough, original theatrical trailer.

Cookieman108

By the way, the film apparently did well enough to warrant a sequel titled Big Bad Mama II (1987), featuring Ms. Dickenson. I haven't seen it, and doubt I will as the DVD, which is currently out of print, seems to be a bit over priced...love them gougers...maybe Disney will re-release it, too...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grindhouse gangstress, January 18, 2008
Big Bad Mama is the archetypal Roger Corman 70s b-movie, with the monsters and sci-fi of the 50s and 60s replaced by plentiful low-budget action, tongue-in-cheek humor and mandatory nudity from almost every actress in the cast in a fast-moving Depression-era backroads gangster flick. Angie Dickinson is the Ma Barker figure tryin' to do right by her two gals, stumbling her way from bootlegging to armed robbery to kidnapping with the aid of Tom Skerritt's bank robber and William Shatner's Southern conman (unfortunately the mandatory nudity rule also applies to him, though we are spared the sight of the captain's log). While not as smart as John Sayles' and Jonathan Demme's Corman flicks there are occasional nods to history - not least the resistance of hypocritical establishment figures and the Big Rich to the New Deal, leaving the poor to fend for themselves as best they can - and some mildly anarchic sight gags (watch out for the cripple `healed' by William O'Connell's phoney preacher) but mostly this has few aspirations beyond throwing in as many shootouts, car chases and nude scenes from Ms Dickinson as it can in its 83 running time.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wilma Can Be My Big Bad Mama Any Day, January 9, 2011
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This review is from: Big Bad Mama / Big Bad Mama II (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) (DVD)
Like any red blooded American male, I'm quite taken with Angie Dickinson. Since I first saw her in the shower in Dressed To Kill and wanted nothing more than to jump in with her and ask her if she needed help washing her back, I never missed a movie with her.
One of her most famous roles is as Wilma McClatchie in Corman's Big Bad Mama films. In the first film she's a single mother raising two young girls in the 1930s. With no money and a failed attempt at a bootlegging career, the trio take to a life of crime-robberies specifically. They meet another bank robber(Tom Skerritt) and he joins them. He really joins with Wilma. Soon they meet a slimy gambler type(William Shatner), and Wilma, for some unknown reason, brings him into the "family", taking him as a lover as well! Skerritt's not too crazy about this arrangement, and things get a bit creepy when he starts sleeping with both of Wilma's daughters! Even impregnating one of them! Soon the gang's crimes upgrade from robbery to kidnapping, and this proves to be Wilma's downfall.
Big Bad Mama is a very fun movie. Not a flat out comedy and not very serious either. Good performances all around(though the daughters are kinda irritating). Corman once again squeezes every penny for what it's worth and gets a very professional look from a considerably low budget.
Big Bad Mama 2 was made thirteen years later, and Dickinson returns, obviously older(she was in her 40s in the first film I believe), but aged like a fine wine. This time the two daughters are played by more sexy and airheaded types, which makes perfect sense considering this film was directed by none other than......Jim Wynorski! And it definitely feels like a Wynorski film. Here the trio(the pregnancy of the first film seems to be disregarded) are on a revenge mission. Wilma's husband is killed by governor candidate, Crawford(the always fun Bruce Glover), so Wilma and the girls go back to robbery to support themselves, but now have a plan to ruin Crawford. They kidnap his son, and naturally he falls in love with one of the daughters and becomes one of the gang. Journalist Robert Culp(who's very good) is also along for the ride as he's after his big story and naturally smitten with Wilma.
A bit different in tone, but a very good sequel.
Extras here are commentaries on both films, an interview with Bruce Glover, and a documentary on the first film. Well worth it.
Thanks again Shout! Factory.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Big Bad Mama' Of A Double-Feature!, April 28, 2011
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This review is from: Big Bad Mama / Big Bad Mama II (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) (DVD)
Big Bad Mama and Big Bad Mama II are B-movies with A-movie quality and talent. We've got Angie Dickinson giving a performance that would've been nominated for an Academy Award if the Academy knew anything. There's also William Shatner and Tom Skerritt. Both of these films have plenty of action, sexuality, and humor. If you are a fan of cult movies, you should buy this DVD. Or Big Bad Mama just might shoot!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Action, Sex and Comedy, Who Could Want More?, May 7, 2007
By 
Kang Nan (FPO, AP United States) - See all my reviews
This movie is the perfect example of why Roger Corman's movies always made money: good stories, beautiful women and action sequences that combined tension, speed and comedy. Big Bad Mama is the story of one woman who wanted something better for her kids than what she had, and the lengths she would go to in order to achieve that. Her resolution of the problem may not fit in with the better element's view of right and wrong, or propriety and morality, but then again, it was the society the better element carved out that had so imprisoned her and her family. What other choice did she really have? Angie Dickinson is fabulous as a woman who has seen clearly that the life she is leading is a dead end, and that the only recourse is to bust free. Her daughters, taking their cue from mom, embrace the life of taking what you want, whether it is money, men or fast cars. And, all three get plenty of all three. What sets this movie apart from others of the same genre is that the sex, guns and fun are a realistic (an exaggerated reality yes, but then what is Angie Dickinson if not an exaggerated reality?) extrapolation of the story and not just a series of disjointed and pointless adventures. It is a great ride with a great lady.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Angie Dickinson as "Big Bad Mama"., July 29, 2011
By 
James McDonald (Lancaster, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Big Bad Mama (DVD)
Foul-mouthed Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) tries to raise her girls, Billy Jean (Susan Sennett) and Polly (Robbie Lee), proper even though they live in a run-down home in a small town in Texas. Her daughter, Polly, is getting married today. In the church, Wilma objects to the marriage and tries to stop the service. The reverend (Royal Dano) tries to continue the ceremony, but Wilma cases a fight in the church. Her and the girls make a getaway in Barney's car to go anywhere, but east Texas. Bonney (Dick Miller) chases after Wilma. Barney (Noble Willingham) gets shot and dies. So Wilma and the girls take over Barney's business. The plan now is to go to California and start a new life. But can Wilma and the girls stay out of trouble? Not on your life.

Also in the cast: Tom Skerritt, William Shatner, Tom Signorelli, Joan Prather, Sally Kirkland, Jay Brooks, Paul Bartel.

Rated "R". Running time: 84 mins.

Contains male nudity and full frontal female nudity.

Filmed in California in El Centro, Elsinore, Palos Verdes, Pasadena, San fernando Valley, Malibu at Paradise Cove, Agoura at Paramount Ranch.

Followed by: Big Bad Mama II (1987).

Angie Dickinson's next role was as "Sgt. 'Pepper'" in Police Woman - The Complete First Season (1974-78).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 70s Exploitation At It's Finest!..., April 26, 2010
BIG BAD MAMA has everything necessary for a classic exploitation masterwork! Angie Dickinson is Wilma, trying to raise her two wayward daughters, while living a violent life of crime. Tom Skerritt and William Shatner join up w/ Wilma's outlaw family and rob, kidnap, and kill their way across the country! Just about everyone gets nekkid at some point, in situations that could only exist in 70s cinema! Ms. Dickinson is the highlight, revealing her astonishing anatomy several times, once in a scene I'll never forget as long as I live! Roger Corman knew how to make these films work, utilizing all of the tricks and attention-grabbing elements at his disposal. He was / is a bloody genius! BBM is a shining gem in his crown...
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Big Bad Mama / Big Bad Mama II (Roger Corman's Cult Classics)
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