I Saw a Film!

I thought it wise to choose a film with Peter Falk and John Cassavetes for this foray into spaghetti organized crime / casino films. Apparently Falk and Cassavetes were good pals, and did a number of films together. Plus, Bond beauty Britt Eklund along for flavor. And a mix of Italian actors and Vegas and NYC settings rounds things out.

This is a more or less simple tale, Falk’s character decides to muscle in on a successful casino, not realizing his big bosses out East actually own the thing, and like all such misjudgments of bullying force causes a chain reaction of unfortunate violent events. Cassavetes plays the titular McCain sprung from jail to help in a casino heist. Thankfully, not a lot of the film’s energy is spent trying to make an “Italian Job” out of the planning and execution, these sorts of heist fantasy movies always leave me a little dry and bored, but when you’re talking about mighty screen presences like Falk and Cassavetes you really can’t take your eyes off it. I suppose had Falk never gone on to become one of our most beloved TV stars (Columbo) we’d be a little less interested in his singular face (I read on the Wikipedia he lost his right eye to cancer as a toddler!), and unusual diction. But there it is, every time you’re looking at Falk you’re kind of mesmerized. There’s a bit of a father and son story around McCain, but we’re not really interested in that family crap.

Much of the second half of the film is a great escape chase where you find yourself rooting (route and root always get me confused, the sense here of cheering for is root, but route derived from root, so sometimes they get interchanged) for a not great guy (anti-hero anyone?) and that everlasting fantasy of a beautiful lady and a wad of money. McCain doesn’t get to use the Machine Gun of the title all that much, too bad, but this is a pretty smart and exciting film, scored by Ennio Morricone for good measure.

Free on Prime (USA) and worth a look for these artistic elements of style, character, and music.

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