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Do not be misled by the title "Machine Gun Mama." This is NOT a
thriller dealing with the exploits of a small gang like Ma Barker's, as
suggested in the "Big Book of B Movies" by Robin Cross (who clearly had
not seen the film). If this movie had been made by Paramount they would
have called it "The Road to Mexico" and cast Hope, Crosby, and Lamour.
Unfortunately the recipe never quite worked when other studios tried
it, and it does not work here.
Much of the blame in this instance lies with the miscasting of Wallace Ford, who gives us stolid worthiness in a part which calls for debonair insouciance. His sidekick, played by El Brendel, is the sort of comical Swede already out-dated by 1944. Armida makes a delightful female lead, out-spitfiring Lupe Velez in a tempestuous sequence which gives the film its title, and astonishingly reminiscent of Kathryn Grayson both visually and vocally in her two musical numbers. All three are often upstaged by Luis Alberni as an excitable Latin type, and occasionally even by an elephant and an unseen flea of outstanding beauty (which may give you an inkling of the credibility level of the plot).
Even so, the film remains a decent light-hearted frolic, suitable for a wet afternoon when something intellectually undemanding is called for.
MACHINE GUN MAMA is a badly titled but sweet little "C" comedy from
Poverty Row's PRC PICTURES with a talented cast all about a decade past
the peak of their careers. Wallace Ford and El Brendel star as
Americans in Mexico trying to return an elephant to it's rightful owner
(just what these guys do for a living and just how they got the
elephant is never quite clear). The fortysomething guys end up bumping
into a small Mexican carnival that is deeply in debt, the perfect
prospective buyers for the elephant. The fact the owner's daughter is a
beautiful young woman doesn't hurt either. Alas, the villainous loan
shark the carnival owners are in debt to also has designs on the girl
and aims to get rid of these gringos - and their not so little
Wallace Ford is always good but at 46 he looks more than a decade his age, making it somewhat incredible that he could be the man of the gorgeous Armida's dreams (Miss Armida is no kid herself at 33 although she looks far younger, to the point one of the reviewers here presumes she is playing a teenager). El Brendel is an acquired taste as a comedian but I have to say I have never seen him give a more appealing and likable performance than here as the gentler of the duo, who is sentimentally attached to his beloved pachyderm named "Bunny". Rounding out the quartet of familiar faces from 1930's films is Jack LaRue as the villain. Luis Alberni is terrific as the leader of a flea circus whose star attraction Dolores has disappeared and now has transferred his affections to the elephant Bunny whom he now insists on renaming Dolores after his missing flea much to El Brendel's furor ("No Dolores! That sounds like too much lipstick!" he snaps.) Alberni and El Brendel work terrific together and it's a shame they didn't become a comedy team in some low-budget films.
Today people presume this is a war film with a trailblazing female hero but back in the 1940's I'm sure the public realized this was going to be the Mexican Spitfire knockoff that it is. Armida is for the most part much gentler than Lupe Velez and she's a more romantic, less comical actress. The print used for the Alpha DVD release is slightly above average for most of their public domain releases.
"Machine Gun Mama", not at all what I had expected in regards for a title. In my opinion the also known as title "Tropical Fury", suits it much much better. In most factor's though, I found it to be quite hilarious. The plot itself was pretty good. Definitely, a one of it's kind, and as I had mention before in the summary for this film "bravo for Luis Alberni", he without a doubt stole the show. Really, he was a master at all he had done, film and in everyday life. Unfortunately, in return, Alberni - much to the dismay of being a character actor - had in most films been underrated, just as many other character actors had been within that era of film. Also, I find that without him in "Macine Gun Mama" the movie would not be nearly as good. Everyone in it although contributed, therefore deserve some slice of credit. Yet, the movie's #1 star should without a doubt be Alberni. Not Armida.
A couple of of New Yorkers wind up in Mexico with an elephant and hold on.. Let's back up here. Why did they wind up in Mexico? And why on earth do they have an elephant? These questions are established at the very beginning of this mess of a movie, which details the two winding up in a Mexican carnival trying to sell of the animal to the fair owners, but the fair owners are wondering if they can afford the elephant. Soon, one of the two is falling in love with the daughter of the fair owner, but he might have some skeletons in the closet that she doesn't know about. Fairly ridiculous premise, badly badly titled, somewhat stereotypical characters, cheesy songs they don't bother to get into til the final 10 minutes of the movie, and a lame LAME ending that somehow conveniently wraps the plot up by bringing in characters out of nowhere just to get everything finished. Pretty bad.. Avoid.
I know this movie may seem slow and old fashioned to many younger viewers, but to a person, such as myself, who has seen thousands of movies over the years, this movie is very appealing and enjoyable. It provides a moment of relaxation and simple human emotional fulfillment. The lead female role is very well played and very believable. The actress reminds me of Dolores Del Rio. The other characters are highly stereotyped but that focuses emphasis upon the female lead who carries the story from beginning to end. It is in reality a modern adaption of a morality tale similar to Chaucer. It contains all of elements of a story - mystery, romance, misunderstanding, fear, drama, confusion and eventual resolution. I highly recommend this movie.
Machine Gun MamaI must admit that I couldn't finish this one This is a really low- budget and very annoying 'comedy'. Think about the premisetwo idiots from Brooklyn are roaming about Mexico with an elephant that they found! Uggh. And, to make it worse, the film is anchored by Wallace Fordan okay supporting actor but a guy without enough talent or screen presence to keep the film afloat. The worst part of all this is that the film really came off as very forced and not the least bit funnya pretty severe problem with a comedy. And, when the trio came upon an insane Mexican lady who loves to fire machine guns wildly, I started to regret having tried this film. With a bad script, bad acting and a dumb premise, I actually found it impossible to keep watching this oneand I almost always watch even the worst film until the very end. What a dumb movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought this was a crime drama. Little did I know its a musical comedy about two guys from Brooklyn who are suppose to be transporting an elephant in Mexico and try to sell it to a carnival who's owners are unsure if they can buy it. Much merriment and romance attempt to blossom. Barely amusing comedy wanders around with various plot lines for an hour before some realized they were running out of time and they get some one out of left field to wrap it all up. A few musical numbers occur and the film ends. Its not horrible, but its not really that good with everyone speaking with exaggerated accents, except for one of the guys from Brooklyn, one of whom is Swedish. I can't make this stuff up. In the right frame of mind its an amusing time killer, in the wrong frame of mind its a time waster. The title seems to come from the lead actress firing a shooting gallery machine gun in one scene.
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