The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, February 24-March 1

bloody mama

Bloody Mama (1970)
Directed by Roger Corman
When you’re the Pope of Pop Cinema, you can turn any story into a campy spree of butchery—that’s just what the eternally relevant Corman does with the tale of Ma Barker and her devilish boys. Leading the group of nefarious Midwestern public enemies during the Hoover era, Shelley Winters commands your attention as the titular matriarch, a woman who was abused as a child and swore an oath to create a loving, faithful family of her own. Years later, given four fresh-faced ingénue offspring (notably, a rawboned, heroin-addicted Robert De Niro), Ma Barker leaves her husband and leads the boys on a fast-talking, gun-shooting, stick-em-up binge. Winters’s mechanical drawl purrs affectations at one moment and shrills hotheaded nonsense at the next, whether it’s directed at one of the gang’s victims, or her son Freddy’s lover (played amicably by Bruce Dern). In the end, the Barker’s fate was sealed by history, but only Corman could make being gunned down by the FBI so toxically endearing. Samantha Vacca (February 27, 5pm at Anthology Film Archives’s AIP series)

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