Friday, 26 September 2014

SEPTEMBER 26, 2014

MACHINE GUN KELLY (1958) Directed by Roger Corman. ***

I've always had a strong affection for Roger Corman's early efforts and, for me, MACHINE GUN KELLY stands out as one of the best. I first saw it at the National Film Theatre many, many years ago and liked it then. It has a lot going for it. In the first place, unlike many of the other Corman's of the period, there is no element of humour in it - this one is serious business. It is very nicely shot and tightly edited - the opening wordless bank heist and getaway is a mini-masterclass in economy.  The cast is really excellent. Charles Bronson heads the list as the death-haunted Kelly and he is ably backed up by Susan Cabot as his Lady MacBeth moll. His gang consists of Morey Amsterdam, Jack Lambert, Richard Devon and Frank DeKova - all outstanding.  The film may not bear much resemblance to the career of the real George "Machine Gun" Kelly and it is hard to imagine why Corman let slip on Kelly's famous cry of "Don't shoot G-Men" but otherwise this is bargain basement film-making at its best.    

Thursday, 4 September 2014


I've been away on holiday and sadly have not seen much in the way of movies beyond the recent CAPTAIN PHILLIPS starring Tom Hanks which I recommend to anybody who hasn't seen it. I feel I must say something about Richard Attenborough who died while I was away. Since his tearful Oscar speech he has often been viewed as something of a figure of fun or the ultimate "luvvie" which somewhat overshadows his many achievements and his major contributions to British cinema both as an actor and director. For me, the acting was the most important and I have many favourite performances from his sinister Pinkie in BRIGHTON ROCK (above) through such films as SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON, LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN, 10 RILLINGTON PLACE, THE GREAT ESCAPE and his wonderful performance as an old school Sergeant Major in THE GUNS OF BATASI. There were a few duds along the way such as the misconceived remake of  MIRACLE OF 34th STREET (a film he reportedly loathed) but, to be fair, they were few and far between and often it was Attenborough's performance that one remembered long after the rest of the movie had, thankfully, been erased from your mind...I still love his bit in DR>DOLITTLE.  His films as a director were usually big star-studded extravaganzas from OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR, GANDHI (which many think was his crowning achievement) to CHAPLIN and A BRIDGE TO FAR and for the most part they were passionately felt projects...certainly they are all very watchable. RIP