MACHINE GUN MCCAIN (Intoccabili, Gli)

(director/writer: Giuliano Montaldo; screenwriters: Mino Roli/based on the novel “Candyleg” by Ovid Demaris; cinematographer: Erico Menczer; editor: Franco Fraticelli; 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), Pierluigi Apra (Jack McCain), Stephen Zacharias (Abe Stilberman), Florinda Bolkan (Joni Adamo), Gena Rowlands (Rosemary Scott), Salvo Randone (Don Salvatore), Tony Kendall (Pete Zacari), James Morrison (Cuda), Claudio Biava (Barclay),Val Avery (Chuck Regan); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: GP; producers: Bino Cicogna/Marco Vicario; Columbia Pictures; 1968-Italy-in English, with parts dubbed in English)

“A noteworthy exploitation gangster B-film shot by an Italian crew in Las Vegas.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A noteworthy exploitation gangster B-film shot by an Italian crew in Las Vegas. It’s about an improbable one-man heist of a Las Vegas casino that’s secretly owned by the mafia. Italian filmmaker Giuliano Montaldo (“Grand Slam”/”I Giocattolo”) directs in a brisk pace with flash and style, and though none of it is believable it’s nevertheless entertaining and crisply acted; it’s loosely based on the novel “Candyleg” by Ovid Demaris and written by Mino Roli. The film was shot mostly in Las Vegas, and features a nostalgia lovers cruise past such once famous landmarks as the Golden Nugget, the Flamingo, The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, the Fremont and the Frontier.

Hank McCain (John Cassavetes) is pardoned after 12 years in prison, where he was sentenced to life for armed robbery while his machine gun wielding lady partner Rosemary Scott (Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes’s real-life wife) is also released after sentenced to 18 years. Meeting him outside the prison gates is his 20-year-old son Jack (Pierluigi Apra), who drives him into San Francisco. The belligerent tough guy has seen the kid only twice in his life, and quickly sizes him up as a small-time hustler and a two-bit punk. The kid gives dad $25,000 to lead a gang to rob the newest and richest casino in Vegas, the Royal Hotel, but tries to hide from dad that the money and the pardon has come from the West Coast mafia leader Charlie Adamo (Peter Falk). That night Hank tours the bars in the strip-joint area of San Francisco and picks up attractive bar girl Irene (Britt Ekland), whom he marries the next day in Las Vegas and she becomes his loyal accomplice on the Las Vegas casino job. When Charlie finds out the hotel he wants robbed because they rebuffed his offer to muscle in on them is actually owned by the East Coast mafia, he tries to call off his dogs but Hank has rejected his son and decides to rob the place on his own. Hank uses bombs and a fireman disguise to successfully rob the casino of $2 million dollars, but once the big mafia boss from the East Coast, Don Francesco DeMarco (Gabriele Ferzetti), sorts it out that Hank is responsible and that Charlie screwed up by trying to be too ambitious, he rubs out Charlie and organizes an efficient mafia manhunt after Hank and Irene. It reaches its bloody climax when Hank gets Rosemary’s help to escape the country by boat to Mexico, but the ruthless new West Coast mafia boss (Tony Kendall) tracks down the lovers-on-the-run (with reminders of Bonnie and Clyde) and a machine gun battle ensues.

It’s a violent, trashy film, but it works as a sleazy modern-day minor noir film. This is also the film where Cassavetes got to know Falk and recruited him for his arty indie pics that he financed by playing in lesser films like this one.

Peter Falk, John Cassavetes, Britt Ekland, and Pierluigi Aprà in Gli intoccabili (1969)