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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
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 »
For anyone who's looking for the real story of George 'Machine-Gun' Kelly they'll be in for a disappointment. In the wake of the success of The Untouchables on television, Hollywood was rediscovering the gangster era and the criminals that were household names in the Twenties and Thirties. Both the major studios and independents like Roger Corman took a crack at all their stories.
Although Kelly in real life was as big a punk as Charles Bronson plays him here, this is not his real story by a mile. Still Bronson does a good job and in fact this was the first film in which he was given first billing. He turns out in the film to be very good at bullying people, but when in a fight for his life, does a begging act that hadn't seen a cinematic equal since James Cagney turned yellow going to the chair in Angels With Dirty Faces.
The one with the real gonads in the outfit is his wife played by Susan Cabot. In fact Kelly is even intimidated by her mother, beautifully played by Connie Gilchrist as a bordello madam. She's a woman who's been handling his type for years.
The most interesting character in the film is Morey Amsterdam playing the flamboyantly gay Fandango, Kelly mob member. This was a time when gay was practically invisible and only an independent producer/director like Roger Corman in 1958 would have had a gay character.
Would that Amsterdam played a positive role model or that a positive role model was in the film to counterbalance. Amsterdam is very stereotypical and at that time there was no organized gay movement to protest. Over twenty years later there was a great hue and cry over the film Cruising and that would have been nothing had Machine-Gun Kelly come out then.
Machine-Gun Kelly is far from the best work that either Roger Corman or Charles Bronson ever did. Still it might be of interest for the curious.
Oh, and Kelly never utters those words he allegedly said about the FBI giving them their nickname of G-Men.
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