Machine Gun McCain (1969)

machineI’m not certain what I was expecting from this, but I was quite surprised when it turned out to be some kind of trashy Italian crime flick partly filmed on location in San Francisco and Las Vegas (with interiors shot in Rome). Starring Peter Falk,  John Cassavetes and Brit Ekland, I’d expected something very, very different, but most of the remaining cast (notably Gabriele Ferzetti, of Once Upon a Time in the West fame) are obviously Italian actors and the film is dubbed as horribly as only these Italian exploitation flicks can be. Coupled by a score from Ennio Morricone, this is a crime flick with some kind of identity crisis.

The film is so intent on being shocking and edgy (as far as one could get back in the 1960s) that it loses any credibility – I suppose its the kind of thing that Quentin Tarantino might champion as being ‘cool’ but its far from it. Its really pretty bad. Cassavetes, as the titular anti-hero, is terribly wasted, his character behaving in oddly incoherent ways that spoils any credibility to his performance (he robs from the mob but has no escape plan to get away?), and Brit Ekland looks pretty but strangely lacks any real chemistry with Cassavetes, rather undermining a film that is evidently trying to depict them as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde.

Not doing the film any favours was the print shown on the Talking Pictures channel being some horrid pan and scan version- I thought such travesties were a thing of the past, but I guess a channel as small-fry as Talking Pictures (transmitting out of someone’s back garden, essentially, which is almost cyberpunk when you think about it) just has to work with what its non-existent operating budget gets. I got so confused by one typically cartoonish (oh, so Italian) gunfight that I had to stop and rewind the film slightly to make sense of the framing etc. and deduce exactly who was shooting who.

The story is extremely silly, with characters displaying remarkable stupidity, with terrible dialogue that is possibly badly-translated Italian, and the editing is so very poor (again, not helped here by the pan and scan butchery) I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of those really bad cut-to-ribbons tv versions frequently inflicted upon us back in the 1970s. Maybe on a widescreen DVD or Blu-ray its a longer, uncut film with original framing but imagining that makes it a better film is probably still a stretch.

One thought on “Machine Gun McCain (1969)

  1. Pingback: The 2020 List: September – the ghost of 82

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