Bloody Mama (1970)




Director:    Roger Corman.

Starring:     Shelley Winters (Kate "Ma" Barker), Pat Hingle (kidnapped millionaire Sam Pendlebury), Don Stroud (Herman Barker), Diane Varsi (Mona Gibson), Bruce Dern (Kevin Kirkman), Clint Kimbrough (Arthur Barker), Robert Walden (Fred Barker), Robert De Niro (Lloyd Barker), Alex Nicol (George Barker), Michael Fox (Dr. Roth), Scatman Crothers (Moses), Stacy Harris (Agent McClellan), Pamela Dunlap (Rembrandt).

Ma Barker and her sons terrorize the Ozark mountain area (where the movie is filmed) during the Depression. Knowing that this is a Roger Corman film, it is not surprising that the movie explores the worst sides of the gang and their associates: incest, drug addiction, homosexuality, rape, and prostitution.



Spoiler Warning:



Historical Background:


Ma Barker's  four sons were outlaws with two of them, Fred and Doc (Arthur), becoming career criminals.  They worked with Alvin Karpis, forming the Barker-Karpis gang in the years 1931-1935. Fred & Doc were small men, while Karpis was 5’10” (but only weighing 128lbs).

Karpis and Fred Barker met in a Kansas prison.

1931  --  When they both were free they formed a bank robbing gang.

1932  -- Doc Barker joins the gang when he gets out of prison and the gang robs more than 11 banks in this one year.  They covered a wide area in the mid-West.

1933  -- kidnap William Hamm (of Hamm’s Beer).

1934 January -- kidnap banker Edward Bremer.

1934  -- move their criminal operations to the south. 

1935 January --  Melvin Purvis and his FBI agents arrest Doc Barker and his girl friend as they left Barker's apartment near Lake Michigan in Chicago.

1935  --  FBI informant Monty (Byron) Bolton, who was involved in the Hamm kidnapping, told the agency that Fred and Ma Barker were in Oklawaha, Florida in a cottage on Lake Weir. Special Agent E. J. Connelley and his men engaged in a shootout that lasted for hours and ended with the deaths of Fred and Ma Barker.

1936  --  Karpis captured by the FBI.

1939  --  Doc Barker killed when attempting to escape from Alcatraz.

Alvin Karpis of the Barker-Karpis gang wrote in his autobiography that Ma Barker was only involved when the gang traveled together, moving as a mother and her sons to look as innocent as possible.  J. Edgar Hoover only wrote that she was a very bad mother, influencing her children into a life of crime; but this is not a crime itself.  






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