Gun Crazy (Deadly is the Female, 1949)

US Warner Brothers DVD - Peggy Cummins and John Dall as The Lovers in Joseph H. Lewis Masterpiece and ....

.... One of the Greatest Films Ever Made

Text below written 2016-05-08


Gun Crazy is my favourite Film Noir of all time and also one of the best movies Ever, and Yes, i know there's a
11 minutes boring morally lecturing intro to it and some awful actors in the minor roles (especially Bart's friends,
acting stiff as sticks). But that don't matter due to the POWER of the rest of it, the explosive Love Story and the
wildly innovatively shot robbery scenes. The Intense chemistry between the leads, doomed love and the road to
ruin for our 2 outlaw lovers. If i have to choose just ONE this is it - my favourite Film Noir of all time.

Annie Laurie Starr - Femme Fatale sharpshooter

.... and Bart Tare - He likes what he sees

A low-budget production from United Artists that became a beloved Film Noir masterpiece with bankrobberies,
a desperado couple on the run and some of the greatest romantic L'Amour Fou ever filmed .... and a favourite of
mine in the genre section of Doomed Love among with indian master Mani Ratnam's majestic Dil Se from 1998.
The Irish-Brittish actress Peggy Cummins (born 1925) was lured over the Atlantic by 20th Century Fox mogul
Darryl F. Zanuck to play the main role in the company's big prestige project, the filming of the slightly racy bestseller
Forever Amber, a novel about a nymphomaniac socialite's adventures in the 17th century England including the
famous London Burning scene .... but then removed from the film as Zanuck was displeased with her performance
and replaced with Linda Darnell. As much as i love Linda Darnell (read more about her - see Hangover Square and
Fallen Angel in my Film Noir section) i thought Forever Amber was a mess .... and even worse, a boring mess.
So, Peggy got her revenge when she portrayed one of the greatest Femme Fatales ever in Gun Crazy and who know,
if she had been a hit in the trashy Forever Amber she may have been stuck in Forever Mush type of movies.

Big Love

The Good times are over

Peggy Cummins and John Dall as the sharpshooting love couple turned desperados are beyond FANTASTIC in their
role-portrayals, mindblowing with perfect chemistry between them. Peggy's carnival attraction sharpshooter, a sociopath
and dangerous femme fatale, aggressive and sexually alluring and a perfect Bad partner to the weak and mild mannered
Bart, played by the much underused actor John Dall (1918-1971) also in Hitchcock's The Rope and the forgotten noir
The Man Who Cheated Himself from 1950 (i must see this one, hmmm i wonder if it's on Youtube?).
They're so BAD for each other .... just perfectly matched that is - for a film noir. The Lightning strucks and then there are
Big Big Love, crime, desperation and death. Also, there are some snappy innovative direction and great cinematography
from Russell Harlan, and a great script from genius scriptwriter Dalton Trumbo (using an alias as he was black-listed).
The film was re-discovered and became a cult classic when Arthur Penn made Bonnie and Clyde a blockbuster Hit in 67
and it got known that the film already had been made in 1949 in a B version, though a superior one.

The Story:

Bart Tare (John Dall) is a kind and a mild-mannered man with a troubled childhood, growing up in a reformatory. His big
obsession in life all since his youth are weapons and as a grown man he's a marksman, a sharpshooter, and he's been a
shooting instructor in the army. After the somewhat tedious 11 minute long intro with stiff C-grade actors preaching about
morality (but Russ Tamblyn as the young Bart is OK) the film makes a jump in time to the grown Bart and soon there's ....

Annie Get Your (Smoking) Gun

The Noose is Tightened

Big, Big Love

Uncle Bart is coming home. Bart contacts his sister Ruby and his 2 old childhood buddies, now a cop and a news-
paper man and both honor citizens of the community. The Trio visit a Carnival and the sharpshooting attraction and
the LIGHTNING STRIKE when Bart sees the performer, beautiful british sociopath Annie Laurie Starr (see the
pic above and his enthralled grin when watching her perform).
Dynamite meet Fuse, and Bart joins her and the carnival and soon also accompany her into a world of crime.
Their romance burns like a super nova on the screen and their deeds disturb us, his are Bad (robbery and shooting
out tyres of police cars) and hers are Evil (robbery and murder). Surely the most romantic Film Noir ever made, and
with some for it's time daring and wildly innovative shot robbery scenes, groundbreaking and daring stuff indeed.

So, don't hesitate watching this if you haven't seen it - IT DON'T GET BETTER THAN THIS - NO WAY !!
If you love this film as much as i do, also listen to the great Eddie Muller, the king of the commentary tracks, on
Youtube where he's interviewing Peggy Cummins in January 2013 at a San Francisco showing.
Original ratio 4:3 fullscreen, english audio mono with english subtitles, black & white. Extra: A Commentary track by
the author and film noir expert Glenn Erickson

 

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