MACHINE GUN McCAIN: HOW JOHN CASSAVETES ENDED UP STARRING IN ONE OF THE WEIRDEST PAYCHECK ROLES EVER.
In early 1968, John Cassavetes flew to Rome to make some quick cash starring in a low-budget Italian crime picture helmed by Giuliano Montaldo, a pulpy exploitation flick by the name of “Machine Gun McCain”. It’s little-seen even by diehard Cassavetes fans today—though it did see a slight resurgence in interest, if not exactly popularity, when Blue Underground released it on DVD and Bluray in 2010—and is usually only mentioned as a kind of directorial footnote, an insignificant career digression unworthy of serious consideration. (Ray Carney’s book “Cassavetes on Cassavetes”, generally considered to be the definitive book about the director, mentions the film only passingly, and even then only to account for the time Cassavetes spent in Italy shooting it.)
But “Machine Gun McCain”, despite what it’s all but nonexistent reputation suggests, remains a deeply intriguing portrait of a man so in thrall to his own creative powers that he couldn’t help but imprint himself on even the most superficial work-for-hire, more or less proving that Cassavetes could bring method-acting hellfire down on any role whatsoever.
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