Machine Gun Kelly

B Movie Mediocrity Rescued by Susan Cabot, 9 July 2009

Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Roger Corman is a fine, and hugely, influential director. This film however, one of five he made in 1958, is firmly a B Movie that has not dated well.An episodic, over ambitious story appears in staccato form ,part of an otherwise technically proficient and effective production.

Charles Bronson plays the eponymous role with a brooding viciousness which he would reprise in the 1970’s in the, “Death Wish” series. Yet his girlfriend, gangsters moll, Susan Cabot steals the film as Flo Becker, his hard bitten side kick. Sexy and assured on screen, her subsequent off screen scandals are no surprise.

When stealing money from banks fails to yield enough cash and prestige, he is goaded by Flo’s mother to step up a gear, which he does by kidnapping an industrialists daughter and her nanny for ransom. Whilst Beckers more central role in proceedings, and the influence of her mother, distinguish this from the mainstream treatment of women in films of the era, the routine slapping of women, so prevalent in films of this time, features quite prominently. yet it is the breadth of Cabots role from gangsters plaything to co-participant which is the most rewarding aspect of proceedings.

The kidnapping and its consequences should be the climax of the film, instead it is rushed and falls oddly flat. Kelly’s fear of portents of death and the strange gas station owner who keeps caged wild animals is far more interesting.

A bit more money, and a bit more running time would have transformed a proficient production into something far more worthwhile.

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