After serving 12 years behind bars for armed robbery, tough guy Hank McCain finds himself the pawn of a ruthless mob runt's rebellion against a high level don. When McCain discovers that he's been betrayed and abandoned by his new employer, he retaliates with a high stakes Las Vegas casino heist that erupts into all-out war on the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Not blood, nor lust, nor wedding vows can come between McCain and his money...or his machine gun.
This long-unavailable gangster classic explodes on the screen with spectacular scenes of shocking violence, an unforgettable score by Ennio Morricone (The Untouchables), and an all-star cast featuring Academy Award nominees John Cassavetes (The Dirty Dozen), Peter Falk (Columbo), and Gena Rowlands (The Notebook). Co-starring beautiful Bond girl Britt Ekland (The Man With The Golden Gun) and cult fave Florinda Bolkan (Don't Torture A Duckling), Blue Underground is proud to present Machine Gun McCain in a gorgeous new High Definition transfer for the first time ever on home video!
'Machine Gun McCain' is one of those rare gems of cinema. It's a highly entertaining, excellently-made, complex crime drama. This Italian production of a mob family's inner workings and a casino heist gone wrong was an official selection at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival, featuring an exciting score by Ennio Morricone and beautiful cinematography by Erico Menczer. The action-packed mob thriller rightly belongs as a stellar classic of the genre. Yet it has hardly ever been seen by audiences or likely never even been heard of by many. Based on the out-of-print novel by Ovid Demaris, the film has, for a long time, been largely ignored and nearly forgotten. Until now, thanks to Blue Underground.
Celebrated indie filmmaker John Cassavetes ('Gloria,' 'A Woman Under the Influence') stars as the titular character, a career criminal looking to enjoy life after serving 12 years in the penitentiary. Only a few days since his release, McCain is offered a promising heist job by his son (Pierluigi Aprà), but he has a feeling that there's another mastermind pulling the strings. Nonetheless, he accepts as long as he can make final adjustments to pull it off right. But while in Las Vegas to hatch a foolproof plan, some unforeseen twists demand that the job be called off. Unfortunately, for McCain, events are too far gone to suddenly abandon everything. Once the crime family that owns the casino discovers who committed the heist, an all-out war erupts on the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles in order to retrieve the money.
Best remembered as a talented director and for his role in 'Rosemary's Baby,' Cassavetes delivers a top-notch performance as a fearless and intelligent thief. He plays Hank McCain as a calm and collected felon, a methodical thinker as he stakes out the Vegas casino he's about to rip off. McCain is the ultimate bad ass of cool, who can turn into a ruthless killer in an instant when pressured. He's a real tough guy with a soft spot for beautiful women like Britt Ekland ('The Man with the Golden Arm') and Gena Rowlands ('The Notebook'). Not often mentioned when talking about his filmogragphy, but 'Machine Gun McCain' is a terrific gangster flick with Cassavetes doing a fantastic job as a hired gun. It's a portrayal that deserves to be remembered by his admirers.
Peter Falk also stars as Charlie Adamo, a wise guy with a big mouth who originally orchestrated the fiasco. Along with Cassavetes, he delivers an amazing performance as an overly ambitious Mafioso recently promoted to head of west coast operations. Whether playing a former angel in 'Wings of Desire' or a brutal killer in 'Murder, Inc,' Falk is always a joy to watch, providing a humanity to some unusual characters. His best known role is, of course, as the gruff and rumpled detective 'Columbo,' but before turning a new leaf as the popular television hero, Falk played a self-assured gangster who tries to strong-arm his way into the casino racket. When realizing whose business he's interfering with, Adamo's confidence gives way to a scared and anxious mob runt.
Despite coming with an excitingly engaging plot and terrific performances from the two leads, 'Machine Gun McCain' ultimately falls a bit short from perfection. It still rightly belongs as one of the greats of gangster flicks, but its limited production value really shows the budget restraints. The editing, too, is bad enough to make the film feel rather jerky and rough during certain sequences. The few visible drawbacks, however, are easily ignored because director Giuliano Montaldo is excellent behind the camera. The same director of other excellent crime dramas like 'Sacco and Vanzetti' and 'Grand Slam (1967)' never allows the movie to fall into cheap melodrama and keeps it a gripping, fast-paced thriller. 'Machine Gun McCain' is a terrific example of Italian cinema, a pulp grindhouse feature at its finest.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Machine Gun McCain' comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Blue Underground on a Region-Free, BD25 disc. It comes with a standard, blue keepcase. At startup, the disc goes straight to the main menu where viewers will find the same selection of menu options while full-motion clips play in the background along with the film's theme song.
Ever since Blue Underground entered Blu-ray territory with their collection of often-forgotten cult features, they have impressed fans everywhere with one good-looking high-def release after another. The long overlooked 'Machine Gun McCain' is no different, with a splendid 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (2.35:1) that's simply gorgeous to behold. I loved every minute of it.
The largely underappreciated gangster classic comes with terrific, pitch-perfect contrast levels and clean whites. Blacks are accurately deep and penetrating, making many nighttime scenes lush and elegant. The image shows an ultra-thin veil of film grain and a great depth of field. Delineation in the dark shadows is spot-on, with plenty of visible detail in low-lit sequences. Colors are bright and bold throughout, which is perfect for a movie that takes places in Las Vegas and full of 1960s fashion. Best of all, the transfer is beautifully defined and amazingly detailed with natural and revealing facial complexions. Minus a couple weakly resolved scenes and some stock footage, the picture displays clear, distinct lines for much of the film's runtime.
Finally available to enjoy at home for the first time, 'Machine Gun McCain' blasts onto Blu-ray with a brilliant video presentation.
Blue Underground also includes a strong DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Aside from the obvious ADR work, dialogue reproduction is excellent and well-prioritized in the center of the screen. Every word and inflection in the voices of actors, particularly Peter Falk's unique line delivery, is precise and distinct. Dynamic range, too, is outstanding and distinct, delivering terrific clarity detail. The track displays plenty of activity of the busy city streets, and interior conversations come with pleasing acoustical presence. With a pleasing low end, or at least whatever little perceptible bass there is from a mono recording, the lossless mix exhibits a satisfying and engaging soundstage that shouldn't disappoint. On high-rez audio, the crime drama sounds fantastic.
This Blu-ray edition of the classic Italian crime drama debuts with an unfortunately meager selection of supplements. Still, anything is better than nothing.
'Machine Gun McCain' is a low-budget Italian crime drama, starring John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, and Gena Rowlands. The gangster flick about corporate mafia families and a casino heist is choice pulp material at its finest. With great direction, action, and performances, the film should rightly be seen as a classic of its genre, but sadly, it has rarely been seen by many audiences. Hopefully, this Blu-ray release from Blue Underground, which features an excellent audio/video presentation but a lackluster collection of bonus material, will finally garner 'McCain' the sort of following it rightly deserves.