Machine Gun Kelly (1958)





Director:    Roger Corman.

Starring:    Charles Bronson in his first role (Machine Gun Kelly), Susan Cabot (kidnapped victim Flo), Morey Amsterdam (Fandango), Jack Lambert (Howard), Wally Campo (Maize), Bob Griffin (Vito), Barboura Morris (Lynn), Richard Devon (Apple), Ted Thorpe (Teddy), Mitzi McCall (Harriet), Frank De Kova (Harry), Shirley Falls (Martha), Connie Gilchrist (Ma), Michael Fox (Clinton), Larry Thor (Drummond), George Archambeault (Frank), Jay Sayer (Philip Ashton).

A Roger Corman film, so you know going in it is not going to be exactly historical. He has gangster Machine Gun Kelly, bootlegger turned bank robber, kidnapping a rich man's daughter. Interestingly, the infamous gangster was not the real leader of his gang, but rather his money hungry wife Kathryn.


Spoiler Warning:



Historical Background:


1895  --  born George Kelly Barnes to a wealthy family in Memphis, Tennessee.

1917  -- at Mississippi State University studying agriculture he is a constant thorn in the side of the faculty.

Quits school to marry Geneva Ramsey and quickly has two children with her. Working as a cab drive, he was soon in need of money.  The strain leads to a separation from his wife. He then becomes a bootlegger.

Arrested several times; gets a new girlfriend and leaves Memphis for the west under the alias George R. Kelly.

1928 --  arrested for smuggling liquor into an Indian Reservation; serves time in Leavenworth Penitentiary.  

1929  --  time in the State Penitentiary, New Mexico.

Kelly partners with bootlegger Steve Anderson in Oklahoma City.

1930  -- he marries Anderson's mistress Kathryn Thorne in Minneapolis.

His wife becomes the real brains of the criminal activity.  He becomes "Public Enemy Number One." It was Kathryn who responsible for Kelly's use of the machine gun (she is the one who purchased it and pressured her husband to practice). She even gave him the nickname of "Machine Gun" Kelly. She would hand out the spent machine gun cartridges as souvenirs.   

1933  -- after robberies in Texas and Mississippi, the FBI creates a public frenzy when they publish Wanted Posters describing Kelly as an "Expert Machine Gunner."

1933 July  --  with two accomplices kidnap wealthy Charles Urschel in Oklahoma City and hold him for a $200,000 ransom. The ransom paid, they drop Urschel near Norman, Oklahoma.

1933 September --  visiting friend John Tichenor in Memphis, the law broke into the house to find Kelly still in his pajamas and Kathryn still asleep.

The couple were given life sentences in Oklahoma. Kelly eventually went to Leavenworth, Kansas and Kathryn a federal prison in Cincinnati.

1934  -- Kelly is sent to Alcatraz after bragging how he would escape from Leavenworth. He was among the first groups of prisoners in Alcatraz.

1951  --  returned to Leavenworth.

1954  -- dies of a heart attack on his 59th birthday.

1958  --  Kathryn gets out of prison; works as a bookkeeper in an Oklahoma hospital.



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