Sunday, February 15, 2009

Machine Gun Kelly (1958)

Director: Roger Corman

Starring: Charles Bronson, Susan Cabot, Morey Amsterdam

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Without His Gun He Was Naked Yellow!

Plot: Follow the exploits of Machine Gun Kelly from his days as a notorious bank robber to his downfall into the hands of the law.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Would I watch it again? Sorry, Charlie. Nope.

Bronson = Badass! He doesn't say much...he doesn't have to.

Boy, oh, boy I was ready for this one. One of the all-time biggest badasses starring as the notorious gangster of the Great Depression? WOW! What a ride this was going to be. Nope. I was just taken for a ride, instead.

Here's Bronson in one of his earliest starring roles. He's really the only reason to watch this and it's probably the Bronson fans that would even want to. It's more drama than anything else. After the fantastic, rapid-fire, whizz-bang opening credits/bank robbery scenes it's all downhill form there. Btw, Gerald Fried's hot jazz & Dixieland score is loads of fun. His riff on the Dixieland classic, That's a Plenty, kicks.

We don't get much action other than the aforementioned opening, a failed robbery attempt and a weak shootout with the law at the end. The rest is just melodramatic filler showing us Kelly's phobias, his dominating and manipulative woman, and the overall weak and flawed man that he supposedly is. I don't know much about the real MGK but I'm willing to bet he wasn't as much of a pussy as he's portrayed here. It's too bad, too, because you've got CHARLES "FREAKING" BRONSON playing the guy.

There is one great line that will always stick out for me. Kelly and a couple of his gang are killing some time in a room when his doll comes in to stir things up. The tension is high and it isn't long before Kelly and Howard go at it when Howard pulls and knife and says...

"I'm gonna carve a map of hell on your kisser!"

"Come on. I'll stitch a new belt right across your belly!"

Sweet! Not the best of retorts from Kelly, though. But that's indicative of how this film plays out. It's not nearly as good as it should be considering what the film makers had to begin with. The script is the biggest flaw. It's simply not interesting enough to hold an audience's attention. As with a lot of films about real life people, the real story is often far more interesting than the ones created by the screenwriters. You know, the ones with the "creative" license to do anything but take the approach of "I can take something really interesting and make it boring". Case in point: MACHINE GUN KELLY (1958).

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