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
While loosely--VERY loosely--based on the real "Machine Gun Kelly" (real name George Kelly), there are many incidents in this film that simply never happened. For one thing, the only time Kelly ever fired his machine gun was on on a firing range, and he certainly never killed or even shot at anyone, contrary to what is shown in this film. Also, the Kelly gang didn't kidnap a millionaire's little girl, as shown in this film; they kidnapped the millionaire himself, a wealthy brewer named Charles Urschel, and this is what eventually led to Kelly's capture and imprisonment. Also, he wasn't captured in a shootout with lawmen, as shown here; police and FBI agents in Memphis, TN, surprised him in the stairwell of a boarding house and he fell to his knees and screamed "Don't shoot, G-men!", thereby coining the name that FBI agents have been known by since then--an incident that is completely left out of this film. See more »
Opening credits: THE TITLE CHARACTER UPON WHICH THIS STORY IS BASED IS TRUE. The other characters, all events and firms, depicted are fictional. Any similarity to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental. See more »
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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