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Peter Falk's performance as a ruthless gangster was the best part of this
What undermines this movie is McCain's stupidity. Even when he knows that the Mob is looking for him he goes to his friends and ex-wife for help. Doesn't he know they are the first places the Mob would look ? Didn't he have a plan for how to disappear with the money ?
This is a stylish, complex and exciting gangster melodrama (which
Leonard Maltin in "Movies & Video Guide" calls "junk" and awards a mere
**!) bolstered by an infectious Ennio Morricone score (especially the
title ballad). Amazingly, it was shown on Italian TV at the time of the
Cannes Film Festival as part of a series of past nominees;
unfortunately, however, the print was of the choppy 94-minute U.S.
version (bearing the Columbia logo upfront) and panned-and-scanned to
boot (making the Techniscope compositions pretty claustrophobic)!! I've
been unable to determine the film's original length, but I've seen
running-times as long as 119 minutes!
The film is well-served by a great cast: an intense and fearless John Cassavetes as the title character, a delectable Britt Ekland as a girl he meets and marries on being sprung from jail (who becomes an accomplice in his criminal schemes without batting an eyelid, at least in this version!), Peter Falk as a bad-tempered small-time hood whose ambitions see him clash with his ruthless superiors, Florinda Bolkan as his even more avaricious wife, Gabriele Ferzetti as the crossed Don who goes to teach Falk a lesson (and who seems to be having an affair with Bolkan!), Luigi Pistilli (rather under-used as Falk's right-hand man), Salvo Randone (as the No. 1 Mafia Boss who keeps track of the situation from his New York office), Tony Kendall (as the hit-man dispatched to eliminate both Falk and Cassavetes) and "Special Guest Star" Gena Rowlands (as McCain's tough old flame - together they were a legendary criminal double-act, and the real-life couple demonstrate undeniable chemistry in their one scene together! - who, still having feelings for him, aids in his escape from the Mob and suffers the consequences for her actions). It's an interesting mix of 'styles': the Italians give it authenticity, the women a touch of class and the two male stars (who, regrettably, don't share any screen-time but were eventually re-teamed in a gangland milieu in MIKEY AND NICKY  - which I recently watched - and where they were practically inseparable!) an aura of intelligence. Some sources credit The Doors' frontman Jim Morrison in the role of a lackey, but it certainly didn't seem like him to me!
The best sequence is the ingenious heist from a Las Vegas casino (indeed, the glitzy and often sleazy locations are a definite asset) and, in the cynical fashion of cinema in the late 60s, the film ends - rather abruptly - with a downbeat 'curtain'. Montaldo didn't make that many films but from the three I've watched - the others being the enjoyable light-hearted caper GRAND SLAM (1967) and the excellent IL GIOCATTOLO (1979), a Death Wish-type drama with a remarkable leading performance from Nino Manfredi - he certainly knew his business.
An ex-con with explosives experience gets back into the swing of things when he lines up a job to rob a Mafia run casino in Las Vegas. With John Cassavetes in the lead one would think this film would be more available than merely catching it by luck on TCM on their midnight Underground Cinema showcase. Though the production is more or less lower budget and the spoken words don't exactly line up with the movement of the lips, it's nonetheless vintage 60's crime with Cassavetes as great as ever, and Peter Falk playing the casino manager and lower level Mafiosi. There are some neat scenes of the San Francisco night life, and the action shifts to the Las Vegas strip with Cassavetes and his new bride Arlene (Britt Eklund) and the ruthless revenge of the Mafia as the movie becomes a pretty dark chase film through LA with Gena Rowlands getting a tough little part as the vise tightens.
I just recently got Drive-in Classics channel and it was the best
decision of my life. Why? Because I get to see rare movies from the
genres and eras long forgotten by most. This was one of those movies.
Peter Falk stands out most in this movie just like he does in any of
his movies. He's a mobster, a ruthless one at that and takes the cake
for number one on my list of bad asses. If you ever get a chance to
pick this up in a store or see it on TV then watch it and enjoy it.
You'll never regret that decision.
For style, Ennio Morricone's great score and Peter Falk. I give this movie 10/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I caught this on TCM the other morning. I had seen it years ago, and it
was about as bad as I remembered. Cassavetes was a wonderful actor but
he appeared in a lot of lousy pictures to earn the dough that financed
FACES, A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE, GLORIA, and his other directorial
Perhaps GLI INTOCCABILI suffers in translation to MACHINE GUN McCAIN. Some of the English dialogue seemed shoehorned into the original Italian, out of place and nonsensical as English. But it was the relationships among the characters that seemed most outlandish here -- particularly between McCain and his "son" (Pierluigi Apra?) and, later, with Irene (Britt Eklund). There's no chemistry among these actors, yet we're supposed to believe that their character relationships are significant. Too bad the scriptwriter didn't bring Gena Rowlands into the film in the first ten minutes -- she would have been even more credible as McCain's longtime accomplice and lover. And it would have been nice if there had been some opportunities for interaction between McCain and Joey Adamo (Peter Falk, who also was wasting his talent here).
The Vegas heist is the one part of the film that works, but it takes a lot of dull exposition to get there, and -- as another poster here points out -- how can a career criminal as wily as McCain not have had an escape plan worked out before the heist? If the ending of a story is as inevitable as the fates, then it had better be a damned good story. MACHINE GUN McCAIN is tedious, predictable, and in the end, just plain shipshod storytelling. (However, I do hope some bright political satirist picks up on the closing ballad in the film and applies it to a montage of John S. McCain's campaign photos after he loses the presidential election in November.) By the way, McCain's submachine gun is a Sten, not a Thompson.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's not a masterpiece by any mean, but Giuliano Montaldo's crime thriller is still terrific. John Cassavetes is sprung from jail by his son (working for mafioso Peter Falk) to rob a Las Vegas casino. When the job is canceled, everyone complies but Cassavetes. Mayhem ensues. Cassavetes is great and Falk is too (though they have no scenes together). Britt Ekland plays a waif recruited by Cassavetes and she's stunning. A great score by Ennio Morricone helps and the supporting cast, including Gabrielle Ferzetti, Tony Kendall and bitchy Florinda Balkin, is very colorful. Gena Rowlands, in an extended cameo, plays a tough as nails Cassavetes crony.
Let me start out by saying I think the main star in this flick, John
Cassavettes is one of the most underrated actors of his time. I was
expecting this movie to blow me out of the water. I'm a huge fan of
euro action and gangster flicks. Maybe I've seen too many...or maybe
"Machine Gun McCain" just wasn't trashy enough for me.
The plot is simple and straightforward. John is great as the quintessential old school tough guy. His son represents everything he isn't. I liked that part of the story- the relationship between Hank and his son.
This movie lacked the overall trashiness that I like to see in these Italian crime flicks. I prefer stuff like "Street Law" or Fulci's "Contraband," and recently I saw Deodato's "Live Like A Cop Die Like A Man" which is way more along the lines of the stuff I like (more violence, more shock, more trash)...I rented this movie and I doubt I'll purchase it for my collection.
However, I'd recommend it for fans of John Cassavettes. As I said, he really makes the movie. Look for a young Florinda Bolkan as Josie.
6 out of 10, kids.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(There are Spoilers) Fast pace and hard hitting robbery caper involving
the newly opened Royal Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
With the West Coast mob boss Charlie Adamo, Peter Falk, determined to get a piece of the action at the hotel that the manager Abe Silverman Steffen Zacharias, cut him out of he has, by paying off the right people, convicted armed robber Hank McCain, John Cassavetes, sprung from San Quentin. All this after McCain served just twelve years of his 25 to life sentence. Unknown to McCain Adamo has his foolish and bumbling 20 year old son Jack,Pierlugi Apa, masterminding the robbery of the Royal with his two equally incompetent partners Barcly & Cudo, Cludio Biava & James Morrison.
It just happens that the Royal is secretly owned by the New York crime syndicate whom Boss Adamo is working for! By the time Adamo finds that out he, in order to save his hide, calls off the robbery. McCain feeling that he's out of the loop, in the planing of the robbery, and unknown to New York Mafia boss Don Savaltore and his #1 man Don DeMarco, Salvo Randone & Gabriele Ferzetti, decides to pull it off anyway together with his new found love and gun moll Irene Tucker, Britt Ekland. It's Irene whom the sex-staved-after 12 years without a women's company- McCain picked up, and later married, at a San Francisco nightclub.
The action is hot and heavy with McCain going on his own, after Jack together with his two henchmen were rubbed out, to rob the Royal Hotel of it's weekly take of some two million dollars. The robbery goes according to plan with McCain taking off with the cash together with Irene. The mob finds out who McCain is by beating it out of Adamo's right-hand man Duke Mazzanga, Luigi Pistilli. This has both McCain and Irene, with their photo's made available to the public, on the run for their lives before the mob can get a hold of them.
In the end McCain gets a bit nostalgic by tracking down his wife Rosemary Scott, Gena Rowland, who was convicted together with him for armed robbery some 12 years ago. This sets off fireworks between Rosemary and Irene, who's younger and more attractive, over their man handsome but a bit unstable Hank McCain. This also leads, by Irene later getting captured by the mob, to the mob to not only find Rosemary but McCain himself.
***SPOILERS***Great acting by John Cassavetes Peter Falk & Co. makes the film a lot better then it really is. The ending has just the right touch in showing what happens when one tries to stiff the mob and thinks he, or she, is going to get away with it. McCain who should have know better learned that fact the hard way and in the end he ended up paying for it with his life!
The movie is pretty good to see in that Peter Falk, of Columbo fame, gives
an unexpectedly good performance as a ruthless gangster. I saw the movie on
A and E, so I probably missed some details. The gist is that Cassavettes
tries to win one more score from Ganster Falk(sort of like Superfly)and
attempts to do so with the help of his "Little Friend", a Thompson
Automatic. For a film of the late sixties, it is pretty violent. However,
Cassavettes created his own style of directing, and this film showcases it.
It was hard to follow at parts, but again this may have been due to the commercial interruptions and editing.
It's about a 7.5 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tough criminal Hank McCain (superbly essayed with simmering hard-boiled intensity by John Cassavetes) gets released from prison after serving twelve years for armed robbery. Hank hooks up with his wormy small-time son Jack (an effectively sniveling turn by Pierluigi Apra), who has devised a daring plan to rob a Las Vegas casino. Unbeknownst to Hank, Jack is also involved with volatile and ambitious mob capo Charlie Adamo (a fine performance by Peter Falk), who uses Hank as a pawn so he can gain control of Vegas territory that's currently being run by the formidable Don Franceso De Marco (smoothly played by Gabriele Ferzetti). Director Giuliano Montaldo, who also co-wrote the absorbing and intricate script with Mino Roli, does a bang-up job of creating and maintaining a serious take-no-prisoners tone throughout, stages the tense and gripping big heist with considerable flair and skill, and punctuates the picture with jolting moments of sudden brutal violence. Cassavetes' edgy presence keeps the movie humming throughout; he receives excellent support from the lovely Britt Ekland as Hank's sweet and loyal girlfriend Irene Tucker, Florinda Bolkan as the shrewd Joni Adamo, Tony Kendall as sly hit-man Peter Zacari, and, in a rather small, but bravura part, Gena Rowlands as Hank's helpful two-fisted old flame Rosemary Scott. The last third with the gangsters organizing a massive manhunt for McCain totally smokes, with a stirring car chase set piece and a startling bummer ending that packs a bitterly powerful punch. Erico Menczer's handsome widescreen cinematography gives the film an attractive glossy look. Ennio Morricone's funky syncopated score hits the right-on rousing spot (the ending credits ballad is a real beaut!). Well worth seeing.
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