Friday, March 9, 2007

Machine Gun McCaine (1968, Giuliano Montaldo)

"Hank McCaine has been in prison for 12 years. It's his first day out and he is already ready to pull off a casino heist and double cross the mafia"

John Cassavetes and Peter Falk in a gritty grindhouse film? Well, the reason they are in this beyond hidden gem is that they decided to take on these roles in order to get a good paycheck in order for both of them to do their more artistic personal film, what would later become Husbands. You can call this the "Orson Welles method" Just how Orson Welles had a lot of fun with his "paycheck roles" you can tell that Cassavetes and Falk are having the time of their lives playing lowlife crooks looking for easy money.

This film is effortlessly cool. John Cassavetes plays the role in the most unsubtle way he possibly could. McCaine is a badass. That's about it. There is no depth to the character and there is no emotion. There is no explanation why he is this way also. He is just a badass and we really don't know why. It's this emotionless performance that carries this film in the funnest of ways. We can't help but cheer for McCaine just because he is so cool that we don't want him to lose.

The plot is a bit messy but not to the point where it's annoying. When we are not watching McCaine being cool we are watching a brilliant slightly over-the-top Peter Falk as a mafia boss. It's a win-win situation in this film.

What else makes this film so cool and fun? Well, it's a combination of two of the funnest types of genre flicks. The first half is a heist film as we see McCaine plan out a massive casino heist. Meanwhile, the second half turns into an intense chase film as McCaine is on the run from the mafia. Since this film was also filmed in a very rough way all the action scenes are gritty and are shot in a very low budget way that instead of making the film look cheap makes the film look realistic. The climatic action scene feels so real you can't help but get really involved with what is going on. The abrupt ending is quite the shocker and leaves you with a big smile on your face.

It's a huge shame that this film is not even available on dvd or vhs. It's a cult film that has no cult. It deserves so much attention and I hope I will one day see this film find the audience that it so desperately needs. I consider myself so lucky to be in the group of people who has seen this one. A true hidden gem.

- ****

No comments: