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
Another drive-in special from the guy who really knew how to make them, the ever resourceful Roger Corman. No 1958 teen-ager in the back row, front, or in-between really cared about subtleties of plot, characterization, or other adult stuff like historical accuracy. Just make the big screen go fast, tough, and sexy, especially for the hot-and-heavy back row who probably didn't care if it was Doris Day as long as they had a place to park in the dark. Seeing the movie 50 years later, I now know that Bronson can smile and squint at the same time. Actually, he's more animated here than the Mt. Rushmore super-star he later turned into. I doubt younger viewers can appreciate just how different he was from the pretty-boy 1950's dominated by the likes of Tab, Troy, and Rock. Once you saw that Bronson mug, you didn't forget.
Other reviewers are right. It's colorful characters here that count and there's a good bunch of them, especially the tough-as-nails old bordello madam. You know it's a drive-in special when the producers don't even try to disguise the cat-house with a dance hall cosmetic. And where did they get that really exotic idea of the mountain lion. My guess is that Corman stopped somewhere in the desert where gas stations of old used roadside zoos as a hyped- up come-on. I thought they would use the critter to kill off one of the characters, especially the oily Amsterdam. My favorite scene is where tough guys Jack Lambert and Bronson square off in a hard-eye squinting contest. I doubt that you could pass a laser beam between them. Anyway, the movie was not exactly Oscar bait in 1958, but even now it's still a lot more tacky fun than a lot of the prestige productions of that year.
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