Machine-Gun Kelly, the famous bank robber, seldom without his Thompson machine gun. The story opens with great jazzy music and a murder shown in shadows. His moll is the driving force ... See full summary »
Machine-Gun Kelly, the famous bank robber, seldom without his Thompson machine gun. The story opens with great jazzy music and a murder shown in shadows. His moll is the driving force behind his exploits. He has an exaggerated fear of death and death symbols. The sight of a coffin makes him freeze during a bank job, causing his lieutenant to lose his arm. Finally, the gang kidnaps a little girl along with her nurse and hold them for ransom. Written by
For anyone who's looking for the real story of George 'Machine-Gun' Kelly they'll be in for a disappointment. In the wake of the success of The Untouchables on television, Hollywood was rediscovering the gangster era and the criminals that were household names in the Twenties and Thirties. Both the major studios and independents like Roger Corman took a crack at all their stories.
Although Kelly in real life was as big a punk as Charles Bronson plays him here, this is not his real story by a mile. Still Bronson does a good job and in fact this was the first film in which he was given first billing. He turns out in the film to be very good at bullying people, but when in a fight for his life, does a begging act that hadn't seen a cinematic equal since James Cagney turned yellow going to the chair in Angels With Dirty Faces.
The one with the real gonads in the outfit is his wife played by Susan Cabot. In fact Kelly is even intimidated by her mother, beautifully played by Connie Gilchrist as a bordello madam. She's a woman who's been handling his type for years.
The most interesting character in the film is Morey Amsterdam playing the flamboyantly gay Fandango, Kelly mob member. This was a time when gay was practically invisible and only an independent producer/director like Roger Corman in 1958 would have had a gay character.
Would that Amsterdam played a positive role model or that a positive role model was in the film to counterbalance. Amsterdam is very stereotypical and at that time there was no organized gay movement to protest. Over twenty years later there was a great hue and cry over the film Cruising and that would have been nothing had Machine-Gun Kelly come out then.
Machine-Gun Kelly is far from the best work that either Roger Corman or Charles Bronson ever did. Still it might be of interest for the curious.
Oh, and Kelly never utters those words he allegedly said about the FBI giving them their nickname of G-Men.
7 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?