Classic Cinema Spotlight: Kansas City Bomber (1972)

A Vintage Nerd, Kansas City Bomber 1971, Raquel Welch, Old Hollywood Movies, Classic Movie Blog

 Raquel Welch as K.C. Carr is the epitome of a modern mother struggling between the responsibilities of motherhood and the drive to become successful. Although this film came out in the early 1970's, women were still in conflict between motherhood and work. Working mothers were still frowned upon. It wasn't until 1980 when the impossible idea of woman having and doing it all began. It started out innocently as a way for women to feel empowered and that they could be a superwoman but now most women know today that this in an impossible goal to achieve. When this film was made in 1971 women still couldn't get a credit card in her name, serve on a jury, be guaranteed that they would not get fired for getting pregnant, and take legal action against workplace sexual harassment. The world for K.C. Carr is a drastically different one that the world most women live in today.
K.C. Carr is a single mother trying to better her life and the life of her children by not settling for supermarket job where she would make very little money but rather pursue her passion of skating in roller derby teams and make a name for herself. K.C. strives to elevate her life and those of her children by taking physical risks in the sport of roller derby. K.C. comes across as a caring and devoted to her children, loving them enough to place them in the care of her mother while she travels with her team.  
Despite being stunningly beautiful K.C. chooses to get down and dirty in a sport where beauty is not the star of the show but instead the most aggressive player shines. In the scenes where K.C. is skating you see her shove, push, hit, and fall all for the sake of the brutal sport. Skating in a roller derby is a dirty business that K.C. puts up with in order to find a way to better her life for her kids.  For example, ballet might be excruciatingly difficult but the end project by the dancer is almost always a stunning display of physical talent. The opposite can be said in the sport K.C. Carr has chosen to find her success in. She has to fight and push through aggressively in every game, in dealing with other skaters, and dealing with those who run the derbies. 
K.C. could have easily chosen an easier route by being a model or a dancer at a club somewhere but instead her choose to use her skills and talents and apply them as a skater. She goes against what is expected of a pretty girl to do in society, for a single mother to do in society, and fight her way to achieving some success at something that she felt she was good at. Feisty teammates like Jackie (Helena Kallianiotes ) and questionable men in power like Burt (Kevin McCarthy) attempt to derail K.C. from her ultimate goal which is to create stability for herself. And like all challenges, K.C. is forced to make some tough decisions for the sake of her own happiness and that of her children. 
When K.C. is asked to deliberately lose a game so that she could join Burt's new team in Chicago she has to figure out whether or not that would be beneficial to her and ultimately her children. When she realizes that Burt never intended to keep his promise to allow her children to be with her in Chicago she is reminded that everything she has gained could be taken away from her if she doesn't stay true to who she is. Instead of losing to Jackie, she skates her best and is called out as a winner.
We never find out what K.C. Carr does with that win but one can assume she found the success she longed for by staying true to herself, going against the norms of society, and not limiting herself to what people assumed she was capable of.  Is Kansas City Bomber (1972) a feminist film? Perhaps. But what I see is a story of a woman who knew she was capable of more, embraced her mistakes and imperfections, and pushed through all the challenges to find her own way for herself and her children.

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  1. I really enjoyed reading this inspiring post, and a particularly effective role for Raquel Welch. It also showcases a strong woman who can successfully takes punishment -instead the usual action thriller of the 1970s featuring a guy in a rough sport like Rollerball. Thanks for reminding me how much I enjoyed this film and plan on watching it this week. Cheers, Joey

    1. Omg thank you so much Joey!!! I really appreciate that you enjoyed it! xox

  2. Oh boy - I remember when this film first came out and was kind of dismissed. sadly, it has taken us a very long - too long - time to appreciate Raquel Welch. Great post about a film that should b e revisited.

    1. Oh thank you so much! You are so right! I appreciate you stopping by! xox


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