The Rise and Fall of a Legend
George Kelly (Charles Bronson) may only be a small-time hood but he wants to impress his girl Flo (Susan Cabot) and to do that he wants to see big headlines about him robbing banks as that is what she likes. But Kelly is a man with a fear of death and it is that fear which causes him to botch a bank job and leaving him wanted not only by the police but also by his own men. With the pushing of Flo George switches focus as he sets about kidnapping a wealthy man's daughter to hold her to ransom.
There are a few now well known names involved in "Machine-Gun Kelly" from actors Charles Bronson and Susan Cabot to director Roger Corman. But whilst the names are now familiar this movie is pretty much forgotten despite its focus being on one time legendary gangster. The reason being is that whilst "Machine-Gun Kelly" is entertaining it only uses Kelly's storyline as the basis of a crime/action movie rather than a real look at the legendary hood and what made him tick.
As such "Machine-Gun Kelly" takes the story of Kelly from his relationship to Flo, through various bank jobs as well as the kidnapping and dramatizes it. The opening features a minimilistic but stylish bank job which is done pretty much dialogue free which is entertaining because of the pacey escape as Kelly and the gang avoid capture. And then we see the botched bank job, murders and of course the kidnapping but the reasoning for the jobs and why Kelly wanted to be a hood are kept to a minimum.
Having said that what "Machine-Gun Kelly" does do is show that whilst Kelly was ruthless he was also stricken by a phobia of death which lead to the botched bank job. As such whilst we see Kelly as a nasty piece of work we also see his weaker side and as such was dominated and manipulate by Flo. Their relationship highlights this contradiction as whilst Kelly wasn't averse to hitting her she pushed him around.
The thing is that whilst "Machine-Gun Kelly" lacks the depth it is a well paced piece of entertainment with Bronson and Cabot working together as the hood and his moll. There is a believable air to the way they move around each other and interact with Cabot oozing sexy whilst Bronson brings a hot headed thug to the screen but one who is paralysed by his fear.
What this all boils down to is that "Machine-Gun Kelly" is entertaining with some enjoyable action scenes and good performances. But for those looking for a detailed look at the career and life of Kelly will feel let down by the lack of depth.