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 »
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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
much better than I could've expected; simple but gritty little thriller from Corman and Bronson
Maybe this movie shouldn't be rated this high, but why carp? This is about as good as Roger Corman can get, and uncomplicated too. The script isn't the smartest bank-robber thriller ever, but it's got some good twists and snappy dialog to go along with the package. And unlike many of Corman's early pictures, this one isn't hampered in the least by its low budget. On the contrary, the level of violence is enough that he doesn't have to spend very much on a lot of stunts or blood. If anything, it's a worthy homage to the tommy-gun inspired gangster flicks of the 1930s, done without pretension and with a gutsy leading man.
Charles Bronson stars in the title role, and it's by some of Bronson's own ingenuity with a part like this, and on the part of the script to try and add a little dimension to what could've been a one-dimensional crook into a somewhat sympathetic criminal. The moral of the story for young George Kelly might be that behind a bad-ass man there's a far meaner bad-ass of a woman pulling the strings, bringing out the worst in her man. This isn't so much about full-on reality in so much as Corman tries to get the pulpiest material he can without any filler. While this leaves a little character development up for grabs, and some of the usual lot of not too great acting, there's some real fire going on in the conventional storytelling.
All around, a terrific little B-movie, probably one of Corman's best (in short, not at all a disappointment, especially for those looking for a great early Bronson in tip top shape, and with some range of emotions to boot).
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