Thicker Than Thieves
After helping Frank 'Jelly' Nash (Mills Watson) escape from the chain gang Charles Arthur 'Pretty Boy' Floyd (Bo Hopkins) and a whole host of notorious figures from the criminal underworld join forces with plans for a major job. But FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Dale Robertson) is on to them and bides his time till he can get as many gangsters as he can, including the re-arrest of Nash. It is whilst being escorted to prison that things really kick off as Floyd and the gang set about busting him out again.
Look I am going to leave that synopsis there because whilst "The Kansas City Massacre" is based upon the real Kansas City massacre which saw 5 dead; 4 law officers and 1 gangster I know that it takes liberties with the facts in order to make it work as a TV movie. Now some of those liberties are to squeeze everything in and some are purely to keep it in the confines of a TV movie budget and to be fair what they have delivered is acceptable as a form of entertainment but not great if you were hoping for a more factual dramatization.
The thing about "The Kansas City Massacre" is that it is clear to see that it has been made almost with the sole focus on using a couple of popular actors to appeal to audiences. So on one hand you have Dale Robertson trying to play it gruff as Melvin Purvis, a move which makes his character actually quite dull. And then you have Bo Hopkins giving it all the bad boy charm he can as 'Pretty Boy' Floyd and I can see how in the mid 70s his fans would have enjoyed this characterisation but it makes it a movie about the actor rather than the character. And sadly despite quite a few familiar faces elsewhere some of the performances are just cheesy, over played in a nervous comedy style whilst the whole narration ends up forced and not overly helpful.
What this all boils down to is that for what it is; that being a mid 70s TV movie take on a gangster story, "The Kansas City Massacre" is okay at best. But it is one of those bygone movies which worked mainly because of who was in it and the appeal they once had rather than for the story it tells which truth be told at times struggles to hold your attention.