B movie noir about innocent gun-crazy kid Bart (John Dall) who meets his match, mate, and master. Annie (Peggy Cummins) is a carnival side-show sharpshooter who is as crazy about guns as Bart, but has no moral compass to tell her when or even why she should stop. When they first meet after Bart (fresh back in town from a stint in the Army and a few years in reform school for breaking and entering to steal some of his beloved guns) and his friends attend her show, it is love at first sight. When Bart accepts the barkers challenge to try to outshoot Annie, forget the Production Code--this is as pure, hot, undisguised foreplay as you will see on film, naked or clothed. This scene alone is worth spending the few minutes it takes to watch the movie.
Now that Bart has won the girl, we realize how unstable he is (the opening scenes of the young Bart in court comes into focus now) and how amoral and seemingly unstoppable Annie will become as the couples love and fortunes spiral down hill. The movie will leave you teetering between wonder at their brazenness and sympathy for their seemingly inescapable plight. Sparely filmed (with lots of tight shots and movie backlot sets) and quickly paced (less than 90 minutes), the film maintains its veritas in spite or perhaps because of this taut skin thrown over the heart of darkness it reveals.
Since you have extra time because the movie is so short, watch the DVD special feature version of the movie narrated by a critic as he points out facts about the actors, story, production, and shooting; the technical details he reveals are especially interesting during the extended one-shot take of a bank robbery filmed from a camera in the back seat of the getaway car.
This is no masterpiece, but it is a tight little crime drama well worth the time. They don't make movies quite like this anymore.
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Todd Stockslager (TStocksl)
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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One of the most vital of all film noir pictures,Gun Crazyhas more cinematic gusto and sexual heat than almost any movie of its time. It's a variation on the Bonnie and Clyde story, but with a bizarre set-up: firearms enthusiasts John Dall and Peggy Cummins (neither of whom were ever this wild again) meet as sharpshooters in a carnival, then turn to crime. The direction, by Joseph H. Lewis, is like a spray of hot lead from a gun barrel, capped by an amazing sequence--shot in one long take--of a bank robbery seen from the backseat of the getaway car. (Billy Wilder himself called up Lewis to find out how he did it.) If most film noirs trace the anxieties of postwar America,Gun Crazygoes directly to sheer madness. Trivia note: the film had a title change, toDeadly Is the Female, for its original release, whereupon it was changed back.--Robert Horton