“Why can’t we be right up there with Ford, Rockefeller, Capone and all the rest of them!” - Wilma McClatchie
Two women forever bonded by their experiences together, sit in their 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible, surrounded by law enforcement, their only escape a great canyon in front of them.
They have come so far, shed too much, become so much more than they ever thought they could be to give up now.
They share a kiss, each with the only person who as ever truly loved them, before the driver decisively slams the metal gas pedal to the floor.
The lone compassionate detective, who’d been searching for these women, runs futilely towards their speeding sky blue vehicle.
The two women share a last glance and clasp their hands together, assured in their decision, as their once pristine vehicle launches into the sky.
Thelma and Louise has always been one of my favorite movies, even when I was a kid. I thought it was so cool to watch these two women shoot guns, rob a convenience store and blow up a gas tanker. I had never seen such beautiful women do such awesome things. I would always think about that ending, both women’s hands locked together flying into the sky. What would happen if they didn’t die in that canyon. I bet they would still rob banks and blow stuff up, because at the time, that was all the movie was about to me anyways.
It wasn’t till I was older, when I would periodically re-watch the film, that I started to understand what the film was really about. The message of female empowerment, these two women’s ability to control their own destiny, make their own decisions no matter the morality, even making the ultimate choice of what to do with their own lives. Even now, I still think about what would have happened if Thelma and Louise survived that cavernous crash. Would they choose to still be “outlaws”, going city to city taking what they pleased and living a life of excitement. Or would they choose to escape, hand in hand, to some far away paradise.
I always wished they chose the outlaw route.
During the first ten minutes of Big Bad Mama, I thought this could be the spiritual sequel to Thelma and Louise I always thought about. Three women going city to city, robbing banks and taking lovers. Sadly, the rest of the movie with its half-baked script and uninspired direction really mar a great central performance and the female fun that could have been.
After stopping her youngest daughter’s wedding to an inbred local, fearing that she will live the rest of her life in squalor, Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) takes her two daughters on a crime spree across the country stopping only to fall in love and plan her next heist.
The first man she falls in love with is clumsy bank robber Fred Diller (Tom Skeritt). Who tags along with the women after his own botched bank robbery attempt. Even though he is a bit of a clunk, he is loyal to the family, maybe a bit to loyal.
The four of them continue their crime spree until they met shady gambler William J. Baxter (A young William Shatner). Wilma quickly falls for the slimy charm of William. However, the gutless William can hardly be trusted.
The five of them continue their crime spree until a final showdown with the police.
What about the daughters, you ask?
Wilma’s daughters, Billy Jean McClatchie (Susan Sennett) and Polly McClatchie (Robbie Lee), are merely used as nubile props throughout the film. The older daughter Billy Jean, even convinces her naïve younger sister into a threeway with their mother’s former lover, and buffoonish bank robber Fred (What the fuck did I just type?).
That is really all there is too it. It seems like the plot of this movie was written on the back of a napkin with doodles of boobies by the coffee stains.
Girls With Guns
Since this movie has to do with a family on a crime spree, there are a lot of cool scenes of Wilma and her daughters shooting guns, even tommy guns (Real gangster style)!
Angie Dickinson’s Performance
Dickinson is really, really good in this movie and is probably the only reason you should give it a watch. She really goes for it in every scene, delivering lines with the right amount of attitude and using all her physicality to deliver the perfect prohibition era femme fatale. I really like this early scene, watch from 4:50 mark until 9:40 (Dammit Youtube).
William Shatner’s Acting
Geeze just look at the scenes below. Good thing this guy landed Captain Kirk.
Big Bad Mama has to have two of the worst sex scenes in film history. There seems to be way too much going on while at the same time nothing is going on. The bluegrass music only makes it worse. The full movie is online. Scenes are at 38:20 and 48:50 if your interested.
Big Bad Mama had a chance to be a really good female focused B-Movie and in some ways is still better than it ought to be, but the love pentagon and overt pandering to nudity lovers detracts from the fun of the film. After finishing the film, I couldn’t help but think how much more fun it could have been if it just followed Wilma and her daughters on their quest for financial independence.
In a sentence
Big Bad Mama, even with a great gonzo performance by Angie Dickinson, is an only a mildly entertaining female empowerment B-Movie with a haphazard story that only does disservice to its message.
Rotten tomatoes: 71%
My Rating: 2 Nipple Pasties out of 5
“You can escape purgatory, but you can’t escape Hell.” - Priest in My Left Foot
This has been day 4 of 30 VHS In 30 DAYS. My journey to the center of VHS Hell. Special thanks to I Luv Video in Austin, The World’s Largest Video Store, for being my spiritual and literal guide through VHS purgatory.