Gena Rowlands) for their last chance at freedom....
I don't know if the explosions were part of the original casino caper plan, but Peter Falk takes the fall for them anyway.
Giuliano Montaldo's film, and that all their salaries went into funding Husbands, which came out the following year, shortly after Machine Gun McCain itself reached the U.S. Montaldo tells us on the Blue Underground DVD that Cassavetes was clearly champing at the bit, second-guessing the director for the first week of shooting and growing jealous when Montaldo directed Rowlands. Nevertheless, the Cassavetes gang seem fully committed to the project, with the man himself striking the right hard-boiled tone and Falk playing especially intense as the volatile Adamo. Rowlands has only a "guest star" role but her scenes prove to be the key to the picture.
Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, Montaldo probably wants us to think more along the lines of Bonnie and Clyde. Whatever his intention, Hank and Rosemary are clearly meant as criminals from another epoch, a more honorable and romantic era for Montaldo's purposes. While Hank didn't exactly rush back to her once freed, we see clearly enough that she still carries a torch for him, and that their feelings for each other remain mutual. Rosemary exemplifies this romanticized oldtime criminal chivalry when she kills herself rather than rat out Hank, and Hank finally lives up to the dubious ideal when given an ultimate choice between flight and fight for Irene's sake. Seen this way, Hank's story becomes faintly reminiscent of Roy Earle's from High Sierra: an old-guard criminal freed only to take part in a questionable robbery and run away with a much-younger girl. When you compare Machine Gun McCain to High Sierra you see how Montaldo makes his point about the deromanticization of crime. Roy Earle and Hank McCain have somewhat similar ends, but unlike with Earle there's no sense that McCain has "crashed out" and is now "free." There's no one left with empathy enough for McCain to even suggest the notion.
Grand Slam. Like that one, Gli Intoccabili is a caper film, though the caper doesn't dominate the story this time as it does in Grand Slam. It's more perfunctory about its caper because it ends up being a one-man operation, but the caper format gives Machine Gun McCain a different feel from other Italian crime movies. It really feels more American, not only because of the Cassavetes infiltration and the extensive location shooting in Vegas and elsewhere but because the story is more plot and character-driven and less sensationalistic than the typical shoot-and-chase film. McCain may disappoint as an action film (and many more violent Italian crime films are brilliant works in their own right), but Montaldo and co-writer Mino Roli compensate with their attention to character, while the Cassavetes gang hold up the acting end admirably. Their presence makes McCain a film-historical curiosity as well as an entertaining relic of a Vegas milieu that has itself largely vanished since it impressed Montaldo with its cold, merciless modernity.
BlueUndergroundInc has released an outstanding DVD of the film, and has uploaded a trailer for it to YouTube.