Machine Gun McCain


1h 56m 1970

Brief Synopsis

A gangster defies the mob by going ahead with a casino job they had called off.

Film Details

Also Known As
At Any Price, Gli intoccabili
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Crime
Thriller
Foreign
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
Detroit opening: 9 Sep 1970
Production Company
Euroatlantica S.p.A.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
Italy
Location
Italy
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the novel Candyleg by Ovid Demaris (New York, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Charlie Adamo, a West Coast Mafia boss, uses his political influence to obtain a pardon for Hank McCain, who has spent the past 12 years in prison for armed robbery. McCain's son Jack, a smalltime hoodlum working for Adamo, recruits his father to take part in a robbery of the Royal Hotel casino in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, McCain falls in love with Irene Tucker, and they are quickly married. Belatedly, Adamo learns that the Royal is owned by one of the East Coast mob bosses and orders a halt to the plan. McCain, warned by Jack that two of Adamo's hoodlums are waiting to kill him if he refuses to cooperate, kills the thugs, but Jack dies in the gunplay. With Irene's help, McCain places bombs in various Las Vegas locations, and disguised as a fireman, he robs the hotel safe of nearly $2 million. The mob embarks on a manhunt, and Adamo is killed. Hank's former accomplice and lover, Rosemary Scott, helps the couple flee; then, threatened with torture by a Mafia hoodlum, she commits suicide to avoid betraying the couple. Nevertheless, the Mafia close in as McCain and Irene proceed to a meeting on the Long Beach, California, waterfront, on their way to Mexico. The gunmen shoot Irene, and McCain dies in a barrage of machine gun fire.

Film Details

Also Known As
At Any Price, Gli intoccabili
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Crime
Thriller
Foreign
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
Detroit opening: 9 Sep 1970
Production Company
Euroatlantica S.p.A.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures
Country
Italy
Location
Italy
Screenplay Information
Suggested by the novel Candyleg by Ovid Demaris (New York, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 56m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Gist (Machine Gun McCain) - THE GIST


Lean, mean and paranoid, convict Hank McCain (John Cassavetes) is sprung from prison by West Coast mobster Charlie Adamo (Peter Falk) to rob a Las Vegas casino that is owned by an East Coast Mafia boss in the same syndicate. Adamo's underhanded attempt to muscle in on his fellow gangster's territory ignites a gangland war between factions with McCain caught in the middle and running for his life after he successfully pulls off a $2 million dollar heist. Along the way, McCain is double-crossed by his own son, hooks up with a bar hostess (Britt Ekland), is briefly reunited with his former mistress (Gena Rowlands) and goes down fighting in a genuine noir finale. Although it didn't get any respect from the critics or even much notice from film reviewers at the time, Machine Gun McCain (Italian title: Gli Intoccabili, 1968) is a remarkably taut, fast-paced B-movie crime thriller that is as feral and cagey as its title hero. Cassavetes imbues his role with a pent-up intensity that threatens to explode at any moment and often does. It's one of his best performances and demonstrates why he was more in-demand as an actor in Hollywood instead of a director.

While Cassavetes and Peter Falk agreed to do Machine Gun McCain strictly for the money, the movie proved to be a lucky charm in more ways than one. It was during the making of the film that Cassavetes got to know Falk and began to collaborate with him on his next independent feature, Husbands (1970). He also recruited Ben Gazzara, who was in Europe during the same period shooting The Bridge at Remagen (1969), to complete the trio featured in the title, a story of three married friends who go on a drinking binge in London after a close friend dies of a heart attack. Thanks to Bino Cicogna, the co-producer of Machine Gun McCain, Cassavetes was able to secure financing for his film when no Hollywood studio would commit to it. Cicogna, unfortunately, was not the most reliable investor, and like a subplot from Machine Gun McCain, he ran into trouble with creditors and fled to Brazil where he was later murdered. Nevertheless, Cicogna's initial investment allowed Cassavetes to make Husbands and eventually work out a favorable distribution deal with Columbia Pictures.

One fascinating aspect of Machine Gun McCain is to see members of Cassavetes' tight-knit filmmaking ensemble appear in an exploitation film and bring the same style of improvised, spontaneous acting to their roles. Val Avery, who previously worked with Cassavetes as an actor in Edge of the City (1957) and then under his direction in Too Late Blues (1961) and Faces (1968), appears here as a Mafia businessman. Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes' wife, has a scene-stealing cameo toward the end as a former gangster moll who tries to arrange safe passage for McCain and his girlfriend, Irene, out of the country. And Falk, who is perfect as the treacherous, power-hungry Adamo, would go on to work with Cassavetes on five more films.

Connoisseurs of giallos, spaghetti Westerns and Eurotrash movies will also get a kick out of Machine Gun McCain's supporting cast which features such distinctive Italian actors as Gabriele Ferzetti (Once Upon a Time in the West [1968], The Night Porter [1974]), Luigi Pistilli (Death Rides a Horse [1967], The Lady of Monza [1969]), Tony Kendall, also known as Luciano Stella, who appeared in Mario Bava's The Whip and the Body [1963] and Django Against Sartana [1970], and Brazilian born actress Florinda Bolkan, star of Lucio Fulci's A Lizard in a Woman's Skin [1971] and the gruesome historical drama Flavia the Heretic [1974] in which she is skinned alive in the finale. The other noteworthy Italian contributor on Machine Gun McCain is composer Ennio Morricone who provides a memorable score including the influential "Ballad of Hank McCain."

While most of Machine Gun McCain was shot in and around Las Vegas, there was some additional location shooting in Rome, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Tourists who remember Vegas in the late sixties will get nostalgic watching Cassavetes and Britt Ekland cruise past such once famous landmarks as the Golden Nugget, the Flamingo, The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, the Fremont and the Frontier. Machine Gun McCain, however, is much better than a ride down memory lane and enjoyed critical acclaim in Europe when it was first released. The director, Giuliano Montaldo, was even nominated for the Golden Palm award at Cannes when the movie premiered there in 1969.

Producer: Bino Cicogna, Marco Vicario
Director: Giuliano Montaldo
Screenplay: Giuliano Montaldo, Mino Roli, Ovid Demaris (novel)
Cinematography: Erico Menczer
Film Editing: Franco Fraticelli
Art Direction: Emilio Baldelli, Roberto Velocchio
Music: Ennio Morricone
Cast: John Cassavetes (Hank McCain), Britt Ekland (Irene Tucker), Peter Falk (Charlie Adamo), Gabriele Ferzetti (Don Francesco DeMarco), Luigi Pistilli (Duke Mazzanga), Margherita Guzzinati (Margaret DeMarco).
C-94m.

by Jeff Stafford
The Gist (Machine Gun Mccain) - The Gist

The Gist (Machine Gun McCain) - THE GIST

Lean, mean and paranoid, convict Hank McCain (John Cassavetes) is sprung from prison by West Coast mobster Charlie Adamo (Peter Falk) to rob a Las Vegas casino that is owned by an East Coast Mafia boss in the same syndicate. Adamo's underhanded attempt to muscle in on his fellow gangster's territory ignites a gangland war between factions with McCain caught in the middle and running for his life after he successfully pulls off a $2 million dollar heist. Along the way, McCain is double-crossed by his own son, hooks up with a bar hostess (Britt Ekland), is briefly reunited with his former mistress (Gena Rowlands) and goes down fighting in a genuine noir finale. Although it didn't get any respect from the critics or even much notice from film reviewers at the time, Machine Gun McCain (Italian title: Gli Intoccabili, 1968) is a remarkably taut, fast-paced B-movie crime thriller that is as feral and cagey as its title hero. Cassavetes imbues his role with a pent-up intensity that threatens to explode at any moment and often does. It's one of his best performances and demonstrates why he was more in-demand as an actor in Hollywood instead of a director. While Cassavetes and Peter Falk agreed to do Machine Gun McCain strictly for the money, the movie proved to be a lucky charm in more ways than one. It was during the making of the film that Cassavetes got to know Falk and began to collaborate with him on his next independent feature, Husbands (1970). He also recruited Ben Gazzara, who was in Europe during the same period shooting The Bridge at Remagen (1969), to complete the trio featured in the title, a story of three married friends who go on a drinking binge in London after a close friend dies of a heart attack. Thanks to Bino Cicogna, the co-producer of Machine Gun McCain, Cassavetes was able to secure financing for his film when no Hollywood studio would commit to it. Cicogna, unfortunately, was not the most reliable investor, and like a subplot from Machine Gun McCain, he ran into trouble with creditors and fled to Brazil where he was later murdered. Nevertheless, Cicogna's initial investment allowed Cassavetes to make Husbands and eventually work out a favorable distribution deal with Columbia Pictures. One fascinating aspect of Machine Gun McCain is to see members of Cassavetes' tight-knit filmmaking ensemble appear in an exploitation film and bring the same style of improvised, spontaneous acting to their roles. Val Avery, who previously worked with Cassavetes as an actor in Edge of the City (1957) and then under his direction in Too Late Blues (1961) and Faces (1968), appears here as a Mafia businessman. Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes' wife, has a scene-stealing cameo toward the end as a former gangster moll who tries to arrange safe passage for McCain and his girlfriend, Irene, out of the country. And Falk, who is perfect as the treacherous, power-hungry Adamo, would go on to work with Cassavetes on five more films. Connoisseurs of giallos, spaghetti Westerns and Eurotrash movies will also get a kick out of Machine Gun McCain's supporting cast which features such distinctive Italian actors as Gabriele Ferzetti (Once Upon a Time in the West [1968], The Night Porter [1974]), Luigi Pistilli (Death Rides a Horse [1967], The Lady of Monza [1969]), Tony Kendall, also known as Luciano Stella, who appeared in Mario Bava's The Whip and the Body [1963] and Django Against Sartana [1970], and Brazilian born actress Florinda Bolkan, star of Lucio Fulci's A Lizard in a Woman's Skin [1971] and the gruesome historical drama Flavia the Heretic [1974] in which she is skinned alive in the finale. The other noteworthy Italian contributor on Machine Gun McCain is composer Ennio Morricone who provides a memorable score including the influential "Ballad of Hank McCain." While most of Machine Gun McCain was shot in and around Las Vegas, there was some additional location shooting in Rome, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Tourists who remember Vegas in the late sixties will get nostalgic watching Cassavetes and Britt Ekland cruise past such once famous landmarks as the Golden Nugget, the Flamingo, The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, the Fremont and the Frontier. Machine Gun McCain, however, is much better than a ride down memory lane and enjoyed critical acclaim in Europe when it was first released. The director, Giuliano Montaldo, was even nominated for the Golden Palm award at Cannes when the movie premiered there in 1969. Producer: Bino Cicogna, Marco Vicario Director: Giuliano Montaldo Screenplay: Giuliano Montaldo, Mino Roli, Ovid Demaris (novel) Cinematography: Erico Menczer Film Editing: Franco Fraticelli Art Direction: Emilio Baldelli, Roberto Velocchio Music: Ennio Morricone Cast: John Cassavetes (Hank McCain), Britt Ekland (Irene Tucker), Peter Falk (Charlie Adamo), Gabriele Ferzetti (Don Francesco DeMarco), Luigi Pistilli (Duke Mazzanga), Margherita Guzzinati (Margaret DeMarco). C-94m. by Jeff Stafford

Insider Info (Machine Gun McCain) - BEHIND THE SCENES


Even though Machine Gun McCain was an Italian production, most of the film was shot on location in Las Vegas with some location shooting in Rome, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

John Cassavetes had agreed to star in Machine Gun McCain after unsuccessfully shopping around his Husbands (1970) project in Hollywood. Even though his previous film Faces (1968) had been a critical and commercial success, Cassavetes realized that every studio viewed Husbands as a completely uncommercial endeavor. So instead, he approached Bino Cicogna, head of Euro International, and the producer of Machine Gun McCain as a possible investor.

Cicogna, who also produced Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), was a tall, elegant looking man with a quiet demeanor, a facade that contrasted with his often suspect business dealings. He eventually would flee Europe and his creditors for the safety of Brazil but in 1968 he was quite open to the idea of financing a film by Cassavetes, especially since Faces had performed so well in Europe, making the young director a cause celebre.

According to Marshall Fine's biography, Accidental Genius: How John Cassavetes Invented American Independent Film, "the opportunity to produce what sounded like a prestige film with American stars, directed by a rising American filmmaker, looked like a foot in the door to Hollywood legitimacy. Cicogna was only too happy to commit his funding - to the tune of $1.5 million - and to cede all artistic control to Cassavetes. The contract Cassavetes had worked out with Cicogna, Al Ruban recalled, "was totally in our favor. Contractually, they had nothing to say." Thus, thanks to Cicogna and Cassavetes' involvement in Machine Gun McCain, Husbands became a reality.

While Cassavetes and Peter Falk were filming Machine Gun McCain, they would work on refining the Husbands screenplay with input from Ben Gazzara who was cast as the third major character in the movie's central trio. At the time Gazzara was in Prague working on The Bridge at Remagen (1969) while Cassavetes and Falk were in Rome for some location shooting for Machine Gun McCain. When Russian troops invaded Czechoslovakia - known as the "Prague Spring" - Cassavetes and Falk were worried about Gazzara's safety but their colleague avoided any dangerous situations and was soon reunited with his friends.

Due to Cassavetes' involvement in Machine Gun McCain, his wife, Gena Rowlands, was cast in a pivotal cameo role in the film as Rosemary, a former lover of McCain who he turns to for help when mafia hitmen pursue him. In their brief scenes together, Cassavetes and Rowlands display the sort of spontaneous, improvised acting that was already a distinguishing feature of Cassavetes' movies.

by Jeff Stafford

Insider Info (Machine Gun McCain) - BEHIND THE SCENES

Even though Machine Gun McCain was an Italian production, most of the film was shot on location in Las Vegas with some location shooting in Rome, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. John Cassavetes had agreed to star in Machine Gun McCain after unsuccessfully shopping around his Husbands (1970) project in Hollywood. Even though his previous film Faces (1968) had been a critical and commercial success, Cassavetes realized that every studio viewed Husbands as a completely uncommercial endeavor. So instead, he approached Bino Cicogna, head of Euro International, and the producer of Machine Gun McCain as a possible investor. Cicogna, who also produced Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), was a tall, elegant looking man with a quiet demeanor, a facade that contrasted with his often suspect business dealings. He eventually would flee Europe and his creditors for the safety of Brazil but in 1968 he was quite open to the idea of financing a film by Cassavetes, especially since Faces had performed so well in Europe, making the young director a cause celebre. According to Marshall Fine's biography, Accidental Genius: How John Cassavetes Invented American Independent Film, "the opportunity to produce what sounded like a prestige film with American stars, directed by a rising American filmmaker, looked like a foot in the door to Hollywood legitimacy. Cicogna was only too happy to commit his funding - to the tune of $1.5 million - and to cede all artistic control to Cassavetes. The contract Cassavetes had worked out with Cicogna, Al Ruban recalled, "was totally in our favor. Contractually, they had nothing to say." Thus, thanks to Cicogna and Cassavetes' involvement in Machine Gun McCain, Husbands became a reality. While Cassavetes and Peter Falk were filming Machine Gun McCain, they would work on refining the Husbands screenplay with input from Ben Gazzara who was cast as the third major character in the movie's central trio. At the time Gazzara was in Prague working on The Bridge at Remagen (1969) while Cassavetes and Falk were in Rome for some location shooting for Machine Gun McCain. When Russian troops invaded Czechoslovakia - known as the "Prague Spring" - Cassavetes and Falk were worried about Gazzara's safety but their colleague avoided any dangerous situations and was soon reunited with his friends. Due to Cassavetes' involvement in Machine Gun McCain, his wife, Gena Rowlands, was cast in a pivotal cameo role in the film as Rosemary, a former lover of McCain who he turns to for help when mafia hitmen pursue him. In their brief scenes together, Cassavetes and Rowlands display the sort of spontaneous, improvised acting that was already a distinguishing feature of Cassavetes' movies. by Jeff Stafford

In the Know (Machine Gun McCain) - TRIVIA


Machine Gun McCain was an Italian production that was released in Italy as Gli Intoccabili. It was the second Italian gangster film made in 1968 that John Cassavetes appeared in. The first one was Rome Like Chicago (Italian title: Roma come Chicago). His involvement in both films was strictly for monetary reasons and he used his fees to help finance his own independent productions.

Machine Gun McCain marked the first time John Cassavetes and Peter Falk worked together as actors in a movie. Cassavetes would go on to direct him in four of his own productions - Husbands [1970], A Woman Under the Influence [1974], Opening Night [1977], Big Trouble [1986]

- and co-star with him in Husbands, the TV movie Columbo: Etude in Black [1972], Mikey and Nicky [1976] and Opening Night [1977].

The tagline for the film was "Even the Mafia calls him Mister!"

Britt Ekland divorced her first husband actor Peter Sellers the same year she starred in Machine Gun McCain. She had just completed The Bobo opposite Sellers in 1967 and would follow this gangster drama with the comedy The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968).

Peter Falk was no stranger to Italian film productions and had previously appeared in two World War II epics filmed in Europe, 1965's Italiani brava gente (shot in the Ukraine and released in the U.S. as Attack and Retreat) and Anzio (1968), which was shot in and around Naples.

In addition to directing Machine Gun McCain, Giuliano Montaldo was also a respected actor and screenwriter. Among his acting credits are The Doll That Took the Town (1956) with Virna Lisi and Elio Petri's The Assassin (1961) with Marcello Mastroianni. The sword-and-sandal epic Duel of the Champions (1961) and the historical drama Sacco and Vanzetti (1971) were scripted by him. Montaldo's other directorial efforts included several movies with a World War II setting such as Dio e con noi (1969), Gli Occhiali d'oro (1987), and L'Agnese va a morire (1976).

Producer Bino Cicogna lost a lot of money on his film deals and eventually relocated to Brazil to escape his creditors. He was later murdered there - a stabbing victim. His last feature film production was I Cannibali (1970), directed by Liliana Cavani and starring Britt Ekland.

The music score of Machine Gun McCain is by Ennio Morricone and is one of his best. The brooding theme song, "The Ballad of Hank McCain," has been recorded by other musicians, including John Zorn in his tribute to Morricone, The Big Gundown.

Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan makes one of her first screen appearances in Machine Gun McCain as Peter Falk's mistress. She would go on to appear in several acclaimed European films such as Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969), Elio Petri's Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) - which won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1971 - and Vittorio De Sica's A Brief Vacation (1973). Giallo fans known her from such influential genre entries as A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971) and Don't Torture a Duckling (1972), both directed by Lucio Fulci.

If you're a fan of Italian exploitation films, you'll recognize Luigi Pistilli as Peter Falk's henchman and Claudio Biava as one of the hoods McCain kills. Although Pistilli was an acclaimed theatre actor and also appeared in prestige films such as Francesco Rosi's Illustrious Corpses (1976), he more often appeared in giallos, spaghetti westerns and crime thrillers. Death Rides a Horse (1967), The Sweet Body of Deborah (1968), Mario Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971, aka A Bay of Blood), Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) and Tragic Ceremony (1972) are among his many credits. Claudio Biava has been equally active in Italian genre films, primarily spaghetti westerns and spy thrillers such as Django Kills Softly (1967), Ramon the Mexican (1966) and The Spy Loves Flowers (1966).

Cinematographer Erico Menczer began as an assistant cameraman, working for such internationally renowned directors as Michelangelo Antonioni, Mario Monicelli, and Federico Fellini. On his own, he lensed such memorable giallos as The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) for Dario Argento and The Dead Are Alive (1972) for Armando Crispino.

Machine Gun McCain was nominated for a Golden Palm award for Best Director at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.

by Jeff Stafford

In the Know (Machine Gun McCain) - TRIVIA

Machine Gun McCain was an Italian production that was released in Italy as Gli Intoccabili. It was the second Italian gangster film made in 1968 that John Cassavetes appeared in. The first one was Rome Like Chicago (Italian title: Roma come Chicago). His involvement in both films was strictly for monetary reasons and he used his fees to help finance his own independent productions. Machine Gun McCain marked the first time John Cassavetes and Peter Falk worked together as actors in a movie. Cassavetes would go on to direct him in four of his own productions - Husbands [1970], A Woman Under the Influence [1974], Opening Night [1977], Big Trouble [1986] - and co-star with him in Husbands, the TV movie Columbo: Etude in Black [1972], Mikey and Nicky [1976] and Opening Night [1977]. The tagline for the film was "Even the Mafia calls him Mister!" Britt Ekland divorced her first husband actor Peter Sellers the same year she starred in Machine Gun McCain. She had just completed The Bobo opposite Sellers in 1967 and would follow this gangster drama with the comedy The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968). Peter Falk was no stranger to Italian film productions and had previously appeared in two World War II epics filmed in Europe, 1965's Italiani brava gente (shot in the Ukraine and released in the U.S. as Attack and Retreat) and Anzio (1968), which was shot in and around Naples. In addition to directing Machine Gun McCain, Giuliano Montaldo was also a respected actor and screenwriter. Among his acting credits are The Doll That Took the Town (1956) with Virna Lisi and Elio Petri's The Assassin (1961) with Marcello Mastroianni. The sword-and-sandal epic Duel of the Champions (1961) and the historical drama Sacco and Vanzetti (1971) were scripted by him. Montaldo's other directorial efforts included several movies with a World War II setting such as Dio e con noi (1969), Gli Occhiali d'oro (1987), and L'Agnese va a morire (1976). Producer Bino Cicogna lost a lot of money on his film deals and eventually relocated to Brazil to escape his creditors. He was later murdered there - a stabbing victim. His last feature film production was I Cannibali (1970), directed by Liliana Cavani and starring Britt Ekland. The music score of Machine Gun McCain is by Ennio Morricone and is one of his best. The brooding theme song, "The Ballad of Hank McCain," has been recorded by other musicians, including John Zorn in his tribute to Morricone, The Big Gundown. Brazilian actress Florinda Bolkan makes one of her first screen appearances in Machine Gun McCain as Peter Falk's mistress. She would go on to appear in several acclaimed European films such as Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969), Elio Petri's Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) - which won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1971 - and Vittorio De Sica's A Brief Vacation (1973). Giallo fans known her from such influential genre entries as A Lizard in a Woman's Skin (1971) and Don't Torture a Duckling (1972), both directed by Lucio Fulci. If you're a fan of Italian exploitation films, you'll recognize Luigi Pistilli as Peter Falk's henchman and Claudio Biava as one of the hoods McCain kills. Although Pistilli was an acclaimed theatre actor and also appeared in prestige films such as Francesco Rosi's Illustrious Corpses (1976), he more often appeared in giallos, spaghetti westerns and crime thrillers. Death Rides a Horse (1967), The Sweet Body of Deborah (1968), Mario Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971, aka A Bay of Blood), Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) and Tragic Ceremony (1972) are among his many credits. Claudio Biava has been equally active in Italian genre films, primarily spaghetti westerns and spy thrillers such as Django Kills Softly (1967), Ramon the Mexican (1966) and The Spy Loves Flowers (1966). Cinematographer Erico Menczer began as an assistant cameraman, working for such internationally renowned directors as Michelangelo Antonioni, Mario Monicelli, and Federico Fellini. On his own, he lensed such memorable giallos as The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971) for Dario Argento and The Dead Are Alive (1972) for Armando Crispino. Machine Gun McCain was nominated for a Golden Palm award for Best Director at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival. by Jeff Stafford

Yea or Nay (Machine Gun McCain) - CRITIC REVIEWS OF "MACHINE GUN MCCAIN"


"Between the Mafia with its familial network of courtly captains and deferential lieutenants, and the unyielding loner McCain, whose personal morality will exclude an only son if necessary, a rather interesting contrast develops. At best the contrast is never sufficiently dramatized, and it finally falls in the inexpressiveness of Cassavetes's performance, the vagaries of the screenplay, and the superfluous introduction of an old flame (Gena Rowlands), who adds nothing but conventional confusion to the plot. But it is there to think about; to admire in passing, to lament its loss - as so frequently falls to those of us who love C movies."
- Roger Greenspun, The New York Times

"...A perfectly respectable film with a few pleasant surprises...A reasonable international success, the film has regularly been a focus for discussion in reconciling [director] Montaldo's status as an auteur with his general lack of box office success. [Gena] Rowlands turns in a good performance as the woman who commits suicide rather than squeal, a regular feature in Italian gangster films."
- The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: The Gangster Film, edited by Phil Hardy

"This cheap little Italian feature was made originally in 1968. Its lovers-on-the-run theme and death-by-machine-gun sequence give it more than a striking resemblance to Bonnie and Clyde (1967), which undoubtedly was no accident. This was the sort of junk film in which Cassavetes continually appeared in order to finance his own artistic endeavors, such as Faces (1968)."
- TV Guide

"Dull but violent Las Vegas-set mobster story with some echoes of Bonnie and Clyde."
- Halliwell's Film & Video Guide

"Junk."
- Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide

Yea or Nay (Machine Gun McCain) - CRITIC REVIEWS OF "MACHINE GUN MCCAIN"

"Between the Mafia with its familial network of courtly captains and deferential lieutenants, and the unyielding loner McCain, whose personal morality will exclude an only son if necessary, a rather interesting contrast develops. At best the contrast is never sufficiently dramatized, and it finally falls in the inexpressiveness of Cassavetes's performance, the vagaries of the screenplay, and the superfluous introduction of an old flame (Gena Rowlands), who adds nothing but conventional confusion to the plot. But it is there to think about; to admire in passing, to lament its loss - as so frequently falls to those of us who love C movies." - Roger Greenspun, The New York Times "...A perfectly respectable film with a few pleasant surprises...A reasonable international success, the film has regularly been a focus for discussion in reconciling [director] Montaldo's status as an auteur with his general lack of box office success. [Gena] Rowlands turns in a good performance as the woman who commits suicide rather than squeal, a regular feature in Italian gangster films." - The Overlook Film Encyclopedia: The Gangster Film, edited by Phil Hardy "This cheap little Italian feature was made originally in 1968. Its lovers-on-the-run theme and death-by-machine-gun sequence give it more than a striking resemblance to Bonnie and Clyde (1967), which undoubtedly was no accident. This was the sort of junk film in which Cassavetes continually appeared in order to finance his own artistic endeavors, such as Faces (1968)." - TV Guide "Dull but violent Las Vegas-set mobster story with some echoes of Bonnie and Clyde." - Halliwell's Film & Video Guide "Junk." - Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide

Quote It! (Machine Gun McCain) - QUOTES FROM "MACHINE GUN MCCAIN"


Hank: Who are those two slobs out there?
Jack: Cuda and Barclay.
Hank: Cuda and Barclay!
Jack: They're good!
Hank: They're bums. They're punks. They're fringe nuthings.

Hank (to Jack): Whatdaya do? Sell women? Sell marijuana? Where'd ya get the $25,000? I wouldn't give you 25 cents.

Hank (cruising down the Vegas strip): Twelve years of prison and I still get a kick out of these lights.
Irene: They're beautiful.
Hank: They're not beautiful. They're cheap. It's an attraction for sad, fat businessmen begging for more money...for hustlers, for thieves, for pimps. I LOVE IT!

Rosemary: It's a lot of work you know...just staying alive.

Hank (to Rosemary): Boy, you really look morbid.
Rosemary: Oh yeah. You don't look so hot yourself. You're all grayed up.
Hank: So what? I got my personality to pull me through.
Rosemary: Oh yeah. You're a real card.

Rosemary (to Hank): "How'd ya get tied up with a kid like that? I don't like to be a I-told-you-so but...you should have come home."

Quote It! (Machine Gun McCain) - QUOTES FROM "MACHINE GUN MCCAIN"

Hank: Who are those two slobs out there? Jack: Cuda and Barclay. Hank: Cuda and Barclay! Jack: They're good! Hank: They're bums. They're punks. They're fringe nuthings. Hank (to Jack): Whatdaya do? Sell women? Sell marijuana? Where'd ya get the $25,000? I wouldn't give you 25 cents. Hank (cruising down the Vegas strip): Twelve years of prison and I still get a kick out of these lights. Irene: They're beautiful. Hank: They're not beautiful. They're cheap. It's an attraction for sad, fat businessmen begging for more money...for hustlers, for thieves, for pimps. I LOVE IT! Rosemary: It's a lot of work you know...just staying alive. Hank (to Rosemary): Boy, you really look morbid. Rosemary: Oh yeah. You don't look so hot yourself. You're all grayed up. Hank: So what? I got my personality to pull me through. Rosemary: Oh yeah. You're a real card. Rosemary (to Hank): "How'd ya get tied up with a kid like that? I don't like to be a I-told-you-so but...you should have come home."

Machine Gun McCain - John Cassavetes & Peter Falk in MACHINE GUN MCCAIN on DVD


The years immediately prior to the genre-shaking success of The Godfather saw the gangster movie attempting to reassert itself from under the weight of the waning SuperSpy phenomenon. The big studios became interested in European gangland epics (The Sicilian Clan, 1968) and the occasional European co-production. Director Giuliano Montaldo had begun as an actor in postwar Italian crime pictures with political themes, and broke through to international success with 1967's Ad ogni costo (a.k.a. Grand Slam), a Rio-set caper film that placed Edward G. Robinson and Janet Leigh at the head of a mostly Italian cast.

For 1969's Gli intoccabili (translated, "The Untouchables") Montaldo assembled another all-star cast and filmed with an Italian crew in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Producers Bino Cicogna and Mario Vicario secured the services of John Cassavetes, a hot actor who worked only to fuel his independent directorial efforts. For Gli intoccabili Cassavetes brought along his acting pal Peter Falk, his wife Gena Rowlands and even found a bit part for actor Val Avery. Filmed in English but dubbed in Italian, the film was a big hit on the continent.

Released by Columbia as Machine Gun McCain, the English language version was cut by two reels and became a modest stateside success. Its strong suit is the jarring, feral performance by Cassavetes as a criminal pro who dares to take on the mob single-handed. American posters promised exploding Vegas casinos and savage machine-gun duels. Thanks to some clever production sleight of hand -- mixing and matching U.S. locations with lavish Italian studio interiors by production designer Flavio Mogherini (Danger: Diabolik), the movie has a polished big-budget look. But the American title is something of a cheat, as the movie doesn't feature an extended machine gun battle. The movie's actual focus is on the politics of the Mafia, an empire of organized crime "too big to fail".

Pardoned from San Quentin after only twelve years of a life sentence, hardened armed robber Hank McCain (Cassavetes) is surprised to learn that his shifty son Jack (Pierluigi Aprà) has bought his release for the purpose of robbing a Vegas casino. McCain decides not to reconnect with his old accomplice (and lover) Rosemary Scott (Gena Rowlands) and instead recruits and marries inexperienced bar girl Irene Tucker (Britt Ekland). That's when Hank discovers that Jack is secretly fronting for San Francisco mob boss Charlie Adamo (Peter Falk), who has bankrolled the pardon and the caper as part of a plan to force the casino owners to cut him in as a financial partner. But Adamo has made a fatal mistake: his own Mafia chieftains in New York are the secret owners of the casino. Adamo backs off, but can't recall the fiercely independent Hank McCain, who defies everyone to pull off his $2 million dollar heist.

Machine Gun McCain crackles with a quality Unseen in gangster pix since the days of James Cagney, a truly electrifying central performance. John Cassavetes laughs and shouts like a borderline maniac yet possesses the self-confidence and know-how to succeed in his daring one-man raid. When McCain asks a trusted underworld contact to procure a machine gun, it's clear that all-pro gangster mayhem is in the offing. Dizzy moll Britt Ekland barely knows what's going on but trusts McCain implicitly. They pull off a top score together but make mistakes when it comes time to elude the Mafia's dragnet.

The other stars play their gangland parts with enthusiasm. As a sleazy, ambitious mobster, Peter Falk foregoes his usual eccentricities. Charlie Adamo doesn't realize that his unhappy wife Joni (notable beauty Florinda Bolkan) has for some time been seeing his New York superior Don Francesco (Gabriele Ferzetti of On Her Majesty's Secret Service). Charlie dispatches his local hoods to eliminate Jack, Hank and Irene, but it's already too late. If McCain's violent robbery is a success, Charlie's life won't be worth a cent.

Machine Gun McCain moves very quickly, with characters traveling back and forth between cities in cars and jets; at one point Hank McCain seems to drive from Vegas to San Francisco, and back to Los Angeles, all in a single day. This impression is likely due to the heavy cutting done to the American version to refocus the movie on the Hank McCain character. As the Florinda Bolkan - Gabrielle Ferzetti relationship is barely referenced in the American cut, it's probable that the longer Italian version also contains more footage of the mob in action back in New York. Highly billed Tony Kendall appears only for a few minutes at the conclusion. Celebrity stripper Carol Doda is listed in full credit sheets but I didn't see her in the film proper; perhaps a visit to her famous San Francisco Condor Club is featured in European cuts.

Director Montaldo hasn't many visual tricks up his sleeve but he elicits good performances from most of the actors. Only later do we realize that Cassavetes has no scenes with Peter Falk or any of the Mafia higher-ups. Britt Eklund is much better than usual, and she and Cassavetes generate considerable heat in their love scenes. As noted above, Florinda Bolkan has been largely edited out of the American cut, but familiar Sergio Leone actor Luigi Pistilli scores well as Charlie Adamo's mob assistant. Even with the awkward post-dubbing, Gena Rowlands' ex- bank robber is a striking portrait of toughness and loyalty. Eleven years later, Ms. Rowlands would return to the character to play the best gangster moll of them all, in Cassavetes' crime thriller Gloria.

Gli intoccabili was adapted from a novel by Ovid Demaris, a specialist in Mafia tales. In the post- Bonnie & Clyde cinematic climate of 'radical chic', loner McCain's war with the mob nails the anti-establishment mantra of "sticking it to the man". This theme is reinforced by the lyrics of Ennio Morricone's dynamic title song The Ballad of Hank McCain. As sung by Jackie Lynton, it presents the bomb-throwing thief as a noble independent determined to fight to the end:

No one knows better than McCain / just how angry you can be / when they cage you in with laws ...

It is therefore something of a letdown that this superior mob thriller should end without a big action sequence. The resourceful McCain evades ambushes and robs the casino with ease, but he never gets a chance to strike back at the big boys. Stylish, colorful and classy, Machine Gun McCain makes us wish that John Cassavetes had found the time to allow himself a second career as a ruthless anti-hero action star.

Blue Underground's Blu-ray of Machine Gun McCain is a colorful presentation of this unheralded mob thriller (a standard DVD versions is available as well). We're given only the cut American English language version. Owing to the Techniscope format some scenes are a bit grainy and one or two shots have focus issues. The image overall is immaculate, far better than the unwatchable pan-scanned prints that showed briefly on TV in the 1970s. Cameraman Erico Menczer gets full value from designer Mogherini's beautiful Vegas-style casino interior.

The disc extras include Italian and American trailers, and a lively interview with director Giuliano Montaldo, who is still active in Italy. Montaldo is the director of the leftist Sacco and Vanzetti and was a second unit director on Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers. He recalls making deals with real Mafia types in Las Vegas. He also remembers John Cassavetes, who by that time had plenty of rough-and-ready producing experience, helping out by negotiating last-minute access to the San Quentin location. Montaldo didn't feel comfortable shooting more movies in America, because he felt like too much of an outsider to the culture.

Note: The disc distributor informs me that director Montaldo has confirmed that the 96-minute running time of this release is the longest version of Machine Gun McCain, and that the listings of longer European cuts are incorrect, even on Region 2 DVDs for sale in France.

For more information about Machine Gun McCain, visit Blue Underground. To order Machine Gun McCain, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

Machine Gun McCain - John Cassavetes & Peter Falk in MACHINE GUN MCCAIN on DVD

The years immediately prior to the genre-shaking success of The Godfather saw the gangster movie attempting to reassert itself from under the weight of the waning SuperSpy phenomenon. The big studios became interested in European gangland epics (The Sicilian Clan, 1968) and the occasional European co-production. Director Giuliano Montaldo had begun as an actor in postwar Italian crime pictures with political themes, and broke through to international success with 1967's Ad ogni costo (a.k.a. Grand Slam), a Rio-set caper film that placed Edward G. Robinson and Janet Leigh at the head of a mostly Italian cast. For 1969's Gli intoccabili (translated, "The Untouchables") Montaldo assembled another all-star cast and filmed with an Italian crew in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Producers Bino Cicogna and Mario Vicario secured the services of John Cassavetes, a hot actor who worked only to fuel his independent directorial efforts. For Gli intoccabili Cassavetes brought along his acting pal Peter Falk, his wife Gena Rowlands and even found a bit part for actor Val Avery. Filmed in English but dubbed in Italian, the film was a big hit on the continent. Released by Columbia as Machine Gun McCain, the English language version was cut by two reels and became a modest stateside success. Its strong suit is the jarring, feral performance by Cassavetes as a criminal pro who dares to take on the mob single-handed. American posters promised exploding Vegas casinos and savage machine-gun duels. Thanks to some clever production sleight of hand -- mixing and matching U.S. locations with lavish Italian studio interiors by production designer Flavio Mogherini (Danger: Diabolik), the movie has a polished big-budget look. But the American title is something of a cheat, as the movie doesn't feature an extended machine gun battle. The movie's actual focus is on the politics of the Mafia, an empire of organized crime "too big to fail". Pardoned from San Quentin after only twelve years of a life sentence, hardened armed robber Hank McCain (Cassavetes) is surprised to learn that his shifty son Jack (Pierluigi Aprà) has bought his release for the purpose of robbing a Vegas casino. McCain decides not to reconnect with his old accomplice (and lover) Rosemary Scott (Gena Rowlands) and instead recruits and marries inexperienced bar girl Irene Tucker (Britt Ekland). That's when Hank discovers that Jack is secretly fronting for San Francisco mob boss Charlie Adamo (Peter Falk), who has bankrolled the pardon and the caper as part of a plan to force the casino owners to cut him in as a financial partner. But Adamo has made a fatal mistake: his own Mafia chieftains in New York are the secret owners of the casino. Adamo backs off, but can't recall the fiercely independent Hank McCain, who defies everyone to pull off his $2 million dollar heist. Machine Gun McCain crackles with a quality Unseen in gangster pix since the days of James Cagney, a truly electrifying central performance. John Cassavetes laughs and shouts like a borderline maniac yet possesses the self-confidence and know-how to succeed in his daring one-man raid. When McCain asks a trusted underworld contact to procure a machine gun, it's clear that all-pro gangster mayhem is in the offing. Dizzy moll Britt Ekland barely knows what's going on but trusts McCain implicitly. They pull off a top score together but make mistakes when it comes time to elude the Mafia's dragnet. The other stars play their gangland parts with enthusiasm. As a sleazy, ambitious mobster, Peter Falk foregoes his usual eccentricities. Charlie Adamo doesn't realize that his unhappy wife Joni (notable beauty Florinda Bolkan) has for some time been seeing his New York superior Don Francesco (Gabriele Ferzetti of On Her Majesty's Secret Service). Charlie dispatches his local hoods to eliminate Jack, Hank and Irene, but it's already too late. If McCain's violent robbery is a success, Charlie's life won't be worth a cent. Machine Gun McCain moves very quickly, with characters traveling back and forth between cities in cars and jets; at one point Hank McCain seems to drive from Vegas to San Francisco, and back to Los Angeles, all in a single day. This impression is likely due to the heavy cutting done to the American version to refocus the movie on the Hank McCain character. As the Florinda Bolkan - Gabrielle Ferzetti relationship is barely referenced in the American cut, it's probable that the longer Italian version also contains more footage of the mob in action back in New York. Highly billed Tony Kendall appears only for a few minutes at the conclusion. Celebrity stripper Carol Doda is listed in full credit sheets but I didn't see her in the film proper; perhaps a visit to her famous San Francisco Condor Club is featured in European cuts. Director Montaldo hasn't many visual tricks up his sleeve but he elicits good performances from most of the actors. Only later do we realize that Cassavetes has no scenes with Peter Falk or any of the Mafia higher-ups. Britt Eklund is much better than usual, and she and Cassavetes generate considerable heat in their love scenes. As noted above, Florinda Bolkan has been largely edited out of the American cut, but familiar Sergio Leone actor Luigi Pistilli scores well as Charlie Adamo's mob assistant. Even with the awkward post-dubbing, Gena Rowlands' ex- bank robber is a striking portrait of toughness and loyalty. Eleven years later, Ms. Rowlands would return to the character to play the best gangster moll of them all, in Cassavetes' crime thriller Gloria. Gli intoccabili was adapted from a novel by Ovid Demaris, a specialist in Mafia tales. In the post- Bonnie & Clyde cinematic climate of 'radical chic', loner McCain's war with the mob nails the anti-establishment mantra of "sticking it to the man". This theme is reinforced by the lyrics of Ennio Morricone's dynamic title song The Ballad of Hank McCain. As sung by Jackie Lynton, it presents the bomb-throwing thief as a noble independent determined to fight to the end: No one knows better than McCain / just how angry you can be / when they cage you in with laws ... It is therefore something of a letdown that this superior mob thriller should end without a big action sequence. The resourceful McCain evades ambushes and robs the casino with ease, but he never gets a chance to strike back at the big boys. Stylish, colorful and classy, Machine Gun McCain makes us wish that John Cassavetes had found the time to allow himself a second career as a ruthless anti-hero action star. Blue Underground's Blu-ray of Machine Gun McCain is a colorful presentation of this unheralded mob thriller (a standard DVD versions is available as well). We're given only the cut American English language version. Owing to the Techniscope format some scenes are a bit grainy and one or two shots have focus issues. The image overall is immaculate, far better than the unwatchable pan-scanned prints that showed briefly on TV in the 1970s. Cameraman Erico Menczer gets full value from designer Mogherini's beautiful Vegas-style casino interior. The disc extras include Italian and American trailers, and a lively interview with director Giuliano Montaldo, who is still active in Italy. Montaldo is the director of the leftist Sacco and Vanzetti and was a second unit director on Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers. He recalls making deals with real Mafia types in Las Vegas. He also remembers John Cassavetes, who by that time had plenty of rough-and-ready producing experience, helping out by negotiating last-minute access to the San Quentin location. Montaldo didn't feel comfortable shooting more movies in America, because he felt like too much of an outsider to the culture. Note: The disc distributor informs me that director Montaldo has confirmed that the 96-minute running time of this release is the longest version of Machine Gun McCain, and that the listings of longer European cuts are incorrect, even on Region 2 DVDs for sale in France. For more information about Machine Gun McCain, visit Blue Underground. To order Machine Gun McCain, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Machine Gun McCain


Hank McCain as he cruises down the Vegas strip: Twelve years of prison and I still get a kick out of these lights.
Irene: They're beautiful.
Hank: They're not beautiful. They're cheap. It's an attraction for sad, fat businessmen begging for more money...for hustlers, for thieves, for pimps. I LOVE IT!

Lean, mean and paranoid, convict Hank McCain (John Cassavetes) is sprung from prison by West Coast mobster Charlie Adamo (Peter Falk) to rob a Las Vegas casino that is owned by an East Coast Mafia boss in the same syndicate. Adamo's underhanded attempt to muscle in on his fellow gangster's territory ignites a gangland war between factions with McCain caught in the middle and running for his life after he successfully pulls off a $2 million dollar heist. Along the way, McCain is double-crossed by his own son, hooks up with a bar hostess (Britt Ekland), is briefly reunited with his former mistress (Gena Rowlands) and goes down fighting in a genuine noir finale. Although it didn't get any respect from the critics or even much notice from film reviewers at the time, Machine Gun McCain (Italian title: Gli Intoccabili, 1968) is a remarkably taut, fast-paced B-movie crime thriller that is as feral and cagey as its title hero. Cassavetes imbues his role with a pent-up intensity that threatens to explode at any moment and often does. It's one of his best performances and demonstrates why he was more in-demand as an actor in Hollywood instead of a director.

While Cassavetes and Peter Falk agreed to do Machine Gun McCain strictly for the money, the movie proved to be a lucky charm in more ways than one. It was during the making of the film that Cassavetes got to know Falk and began to collaborate with him on his next independent feature, Husbands (1970). He also recruited Ben Gazzara, who was in Europe during the same period shooting The Bridge at Remagen (1969), to complete the trio featured in the title, a story of three married friends who go on a drinking binge in London after a close friend dies of a heart attack. Thanks to Bino Cicogna, the co-producer of Machine Gun McCain, Cassavetes was able to secure financing for his film when no Hollywood studio would commit to it. Cicogna, unfortunately, was not the most reliable investor, and like a subplot from Machine Gun McCain, he ran into trouble with creditors and fled to Brazil where he was later murdered. Nevertheless, Cicogna's initial investment allowed Cassavetes to make Husbands and eventually work out a favorable distribution deal with Columbia Pictures.

One fascinating aspect of Machine Gun McCain is to see members of Cassavetes' tight-knit filmmaking ensemble appear in an exploitation film and bring the same style of improvised, spontaneous acting to their roles. Val Avery, who previously worked with Cassavetes as an actor in Edge of the City (1957) and then under his direction in Too Late Blues (1961) and Faces (1968), appears here as a Mafia businessman. Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes' wife, has a scene-stealing cameo toward the end as a former gangster moll who tries to arrange safe passage for McCain and his girlfriend, Irene, out of the country. And Falk, who is perfect as the treacherous, power-hungry Adamo, would go on to work with Cassavetes on five more films.

Connoisseurs of giallos, spaghetti Westerns and Eurotrash movies will also get a kick out of Machine Gun McCain's supporting cast which features such distinctive Italian actors as Gabriele Ferzetti (Once Upon a Time in the West [1968], The Night Porter [1974]), Luigi Pistilli (Death Rides a Horse [1967], The Lady of Monza [1969]), Tony Kendall, also known as Luciano Stella, who appeared in Mario Bava's The Whip and the Body [1963] and Django Against Sartana [1970], and Brazilian born actress Florinda Bolkan, star of Lucio Fulci's A Lizard in a Woman's Skin [1971] and the gruesome historical drama Flavia the Heretic [1974] in which she is skinned alive in the finale. The other noteworthy Italian contributor on Machine Gun McCain is composer Ennio Morricone who provides a memorable score including the influential "Ballad of Hank McCain."

While most of Machine Gun McCain was shot in and around Las Vegas, there was some additional location shooting in Rome, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Tourists who remember Vegas in the late sixties will get nostalgic watching Cassavetes and Britt Ekland cruise past such once famous landmarks as the Golden Nugget, the Flamingo, The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, the Fremont and the Frontier. Machine Gun McCain, however, is much better than a ride down memory lane and enjoyed critical acclaim in Europe when it was first released. The director, Giuliano Montaldo, was even nominated for the Golden Palm award at Cannes when the movie premiered there in 1969.

Producer: Bino Cicogna, Marco Vicario
Director: Giuliano Montaldo
Screenplay: Giuliano Montaldo, Mino Roli, Ovid Demaris (novel)
Cinematography: Erico Menczer
Film Editing: Franco Fraticelli
Art Direction: Emilio Baldelli, Roberto Velocchio
Music: Ennio Morricone
Cast: John Cassavetes (Hank McCain), Britt Ekland (Irene Tucker), Peter Falk (Charlie Adamo), Gabriele Ferzetti (Don Francesco DeMarco), Luigi Pistilli (Duke Mazzanga), Margherita Guzzinati (Margaret DeMarco).
C-94m.

by Jeff Stafford

Machine Gun McCain

Hank McCain as he cruises down the Vegas strip: Twelve years of prison and I still get a kick out of these lights. Irene: They're beautiful. Hank: They're not beautiful. They're cheap. It's an attraction for sad, fat businessmen begging for more money...for hustlers, for thieves, for pimps. I LOVE IT! Lean, mean and paranoid, convict Hank McCain (John Cassavetes) is sprung from prison by West Coast mobster Charlie Adamo (Peter Falk) to rob a Las Vegas casino that is owned by an East Coast Mafia boss in the same syndicate. Adamo's underhanded attempt to muscle in on his fellow gangster's territory ignites a gangland war between factions with McCain caught in the middle and running for his life after he successfully pulls off a $2 million dollar heist. Along the way, McCain is double-crossed by his own son, hooks up with a bar hostess (Britt Ekland), is briefly reunited with his former mistress (Gena Rowlands) and goes down fighting in a genuine noir finale. Although it didn't get any respect from the critics or even much notice from film reviewers at the time, Machine Gun McCain (Italian title: Gli Intoccabili, 1968) is a remarkably taut, fast-paced B-movie crime thriller that is as feral and cagey as its title hero. Cassavetes imbues his role with a pent-up intensity that threatens to explode at any moment and often does. It's one of his best performances and demonstrates why he was more in-demand as an actor in Hollywood instead of a director. While Cassavetes and Peter Falk agreed to do Machine Gun McCain strictly for the money, the movie proved to be a lucky charm in more ways than one. It was during the making of the film that Cassavetes got to know Falk and began to collaborate with him on his next independent feature, Husbands (1970). He also recruited Ben Gazzara, who was in Europe during the same period shooting The Bridge at Remagen (1969), to complete the trio featured in the title, a story of three married friends who go on a drinking binge in London after a close friend dies of a heart attack. Thanks to Bino Cicogna, the co-producer of Machine Gun McCain, Cassavetes was able to secure financing for his film when no Hollywood studio would commit to it. Cicogna, unfortunately, was not the most reliable investor, and like a subplot from Machine Gun McCain, he ran into trouble with creditors and fled to Brazil where he was later murdered. Nevertheless, Cicogna's initial investment allowed Cassavetes to make Husbands and eventually work out a favorable distribution deal with Columbia Pictures. One fascinating aspect of Machine Gun McCain is to see members of Cassavetes' tight-knit filmmaking ensemble appear in an exploitation film and bring the same style of improvised, spontaneous acting to their roles. Val Avery, who previously worked with Cassavetes as an actor in Edge of the City (1957) and then under his direction in Too Late Blues (1961) and Faces (1968), appears here as a Mafia businessman. Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes' wife, has a scene-stealing cameo toward the end as a former gangster moll who tries to arrange safe passage for McCain and his girlfriend, Irene, out of the country. And Falk, who is perfect as the treacherous, power-hungry Adamo, would go on to work with Cassavetes on five more films. Connoisseurs of giallos, spaghetti Westerns and Eurotrash movies will also get a kick out of Machine Gun McCain's supporting cast which features such distinctive Italian actors as Gabriele Ferzetti (Once Upon a Time in the West [1968], The Night Porter [1974]), Luigi Pistilli (Death Rides a Horse [1967], The Lady of Monza [1969]), Tony Kendall, also known as Luciano Stella, who appeared in Mario Bava's The Whip and the Body [1963] and Django Against Sartana [1970], and Brazilian born actress Florinda Bolkan, star of Lucio Fulci's A Lizard in a Woman's Skin [1971] and the gruesome historical drama Flavia the Heretic [1974] in which she is skinned alive in the finale. The other noteworthy Italian contributor on Machine Gun McCain is composer Ennio Morricone who provides a memorable score including the influential "Ballad of Hank McCain." While most of Machine Gun McCain was shot in and around Las Vegas, there was some additional location shooting in Rome, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Tourists who remember Vegas in the late sixties will get nostalgic watching Cassavetes and Britt Ekland cruise past such once famous landmarks as the Golden Nugget, the Flamingo, The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, the Fremont and the Frontier. Machine Gun McCain, however, is much better than a ride down memory lane and enjoyed critical acclaim in Europe when it was first released. The director, Giuliano Montaldo, was even nominated for the Golden Palm award at Cannes when the movie premiered there in 1969. Producer: Bino Cicogna, Marco Vicario Director: Giuliano Montaldo Screenplay: Giuliano Montaldo, Mino Roli, Ovid Demaris (novel) Cinematography: Erico Menczer Film Editing: Franco Fraticelli Art Direction: Emilio Baldelli, Roberto Velocchio Music: Ennio Morricone Cast: John Cassavetes (Hank McCain), Britt Ekland (Irene Tucker), Peter Falk (Charlie Adamo), Gabriele Ferzetti (Don Francesco DeMarco), Luigi Pistilli (Duke Mazzanga), Margherita Guzzinati (Margaret DeMarco). C-94m. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Exteriors filmed in New York City, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Released in Italy in 1968 as Gli intoccabili; running time: ca115 min. English language working title: At Any Price. Tony Kendall is a pseudonym for Luciano Stella.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1970

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1970

Techniscope

Released in United States 1970

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1970