Gun Crazy Movie Review

Combining the palpable, seedy desperation of its best big budget cousins with creative filmmaking born of frugality, Gun Crazy is sure to scratch the femme fatale, love on the run itch of any fan of film. Working from a screenplay by blacklisted scribe Dalton Trumbo, director Joseph H. Lewis transforms this ostensible B-movie distraction into a notable entry in the film noir pantheon.

Bart Tare is an awkward kid with an obsession with guns: playing target practice in the woods, stealing a revolver out of a hardware store window, even bringing a handgun for show and tell at school. But when he shoots a baby chick with his BB gun, he swears he'll never kill again.

That is, until the adult Bart meets Annie Star, an expert markswoman performing in a traveling carnival. When Bart bests Annie in a trigger-a-trigger shooting competition, there's no question that these two are going to get hitched and hit the road.

But the days of wine and roses are short-lived for the sharp shooting sweethearts. When the money runs out and nights on the town fade, Annie reveals that her only desire is for bigger and better kicks--and if Bart can't keep the action coming, she'll hook up with better man who can. Bart finds himself pressured into a cross-country crime spree; the couple spends their time robbing gas stations, liquor stores, grocery stores, jacking the occasional car, and generally causing mayhem wherever they go. With every job, Annie's admiration and commitment in Bart grows, as does Bart's confidence and nut sac circumference. The crazy co-dependent crime spree culminates in the quintessential last big score, with predictably tragic results.

Gun Crazy delivers a full magazine of over-the-top hardboiled lines, notably, "Two people had to die just so we don't have to work," and "Take the baby, they'll be less likely to shoot at us." John Dall's stiff portrayal of Bart comes off well, underscoring the character's general distaste for the whole armed robbery enterprise.

But it's Peggy Cummins' Annie that ensures Gun Crazy hits the target. Cummins steams up the screen with the low-boil defensiveness of a woman who's been kicked around the block a few times. Not content to let her past drive her into her shell, Annie lashes out at the world and demands that she be paid back, with interest, for the injuries she's endured. What we're left with is a petulant, erratic, sneaky, id-driven thrill seeker who's a whole lot of fun to watch.

Lewis's direction is also worth noting. Excellent camera work ratchets up the tension -- many scenes are shot from the backseat of the car, making the audience a passenger on Bart and Annie's road trip to hell. Lewis knows when a location shot will heighten the film's realism; car chases are appropriately wind blown and the striking foot pursuit through a warehouse of hanging cow carcasses is reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick's mannequin factory showdown in Killer's Kiss. Lewis is equally comfortable on the soundstage, constructing a knockout finale in a mist-soaked marsh that feels a universe away from the mean streets.

The DVD includes a commentary by writer Glenn Erickson.

Aka Deadly is the Female, Guncrazy.

Cast & Crew

Director : Joseph H. Lewis


Comments

Gun Crazy Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: NR, 1949

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