• Kelly M. Hudson

Big Bad Mama Indeed! (Badass Femme Week Pt. 3)

Wilma McClatchie (Angie Dickinson) blows town with her two daughters Billy Jean (Susan Sennett) and Polly (Robbie Lee), on the run with stolen money. Wilma has decided that she’s going to live her life her own way, and that includes plenty of money and lots of fun. Oh, she’ll take care of her daughters, and love them fiercely, but once the man she’s with dies from a gunshot wound, she realizes she’s on her own. And from here on out, she’s calling the shots. Along the way, she involves the girls in a moonshine run, gets caught, and has to use all their ill-gotten gains to spring her daughter from the local, lecherous sheriff. It’s after this that she meets Fred Diller (Tom Skerritt), a notorious bank robber. In fact, it’s during one of his deadly bank robberies that Wilma not only helps him take the money, but brings her and her girls along for the escape. They become fast pals and lovers and go around the countryside, robbing banks. All the while, they are pursued by two fumbling cops, one of them being the implacable Bonney (Dick Miller). They eventually meet up with a “Kentucky Gentleman” who’s down on his luck in the form of William J. Baxter (William Shatner), who turns the girls on to different larceny scenes, and steals Wilma’s heart from Fred. This leads to tension and, eventually, the downfall of the rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ gang. Will Wilma and her daughters make it out alive from their Bonny and Clyde style showdown with the ruthless Bonney and his police companions?

Big Bad Mama is a perfect drive-in flick. It’s got boobs, it’s got bush, it’s got naked male buttocks, it’s got fighting, brawling, jealousy, bank-robbing, shooting, and lots and lots of action. It’s the kind of movie impeccably designed for the times it came out in. You could be in the car with your honey, making out, and when you took a break, you could catch up on the plot quickly and easily, never getting lost in the mechanics of the story. This is a basic tale of an outlaw woman and her daughters, carving a life for themselves by stealing from the rich and gouging those in power. It rollicks along, from scene to scene, the film just as proudly defiant as the characters in the story. For its low budget, this movie is a shining example of how Roger Corman (the producer) could make things look so much bigger than they were. And don’t get me started with Shatner, who nearly steals the movie out from underneath Dickinson. His oily, whiny portrayal is pretty damned awesome. But it is of course Dickinson that shines the most here, her jovial, take-no-prisoners attitude, as well as her big bosoms and even bigger smile, commanding every scene she’s in.

If you’re looking for a fun girl-power movie, look no further. Yeah, it’s a bit dated but that won’t matter once the gunshots start. The sheer exuberance of the cast and crew carry a movie that is admittedly thin on plot and characterization into stratospheric heights. If you like exploitation movies, this is a must-see.


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