“Machine Gun Kelly” (1958)
Roger Corman directs this oddly unaffecting gangster film which while predictably short on accurate historic detail, curiously substitutes enough unconvincing. psychodrama to sabotage a dozen B-pictures.
In chronicling the exaggerated myths surrounding the career arc of notorious Depression-era criminal George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Corman’s film packs his opening reels with as much violent mayhem as his impressively stretched meager budget can sustain, including several well crafted and tense robbery sequences and some less impressive (not to mention credibility straining) encounters with a perpetually irate caged mountain cat. If these initial salvos of antisocial mayhem promise a spirited celebration of the type of immorality to which the industry’s Production Code hypocritically condemned while Hollywood consistently enjoyed demonstrating its effortless capacity to produce, the authoritative hostility of the title character is squashed by a sudden and unfortunately persistent insistence on undercutting his inveterate leadership resolve.
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