Gun Crazy

Gun Crazy

DVD - 2004
Average Rating:
10
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Classic film noir based on a short story by MacKinlay Kantor. A greedy sideshow sharp-shooter marries an ex-army man, then leads him down the road to crime for easy money. Includes a bank robbery sequence, noted for being filmed in one shot.
Publisher: Burbank, CA : Warner Bros. Entertainment : Distributed by Warner Home Video, [2004]
ISBN: 9780790783208
0790783207
Branch Call Number: DVD ADULT
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (86 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in
Alternative Title: Deadly is the female

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plotline Mar 26, 2016

Low-Rent Production; High Quality Noir

From a budgetary standpoint, director Joseph H. Lewis was leaning more toward Edgar G. Ulmer and his poverty row B-movies (DETOUR, 1946), and away from the A-list stylings of Billy Wilder (DOUBLE INDEMNITY,1944), Edward Dmytryk (MURDER,MY SWEET, 1944), or Howard Hawks (THE BIG SLEEP, 1946).

There was also the matter of timing. While all of the aforementioned classic noirs appeared at the genre's peak, the mid-forties, Lewis came in on the wane with GUN CRAZY ('49) and a while later with THE BIG COMBO ('55).

Still, the short money and late arrival didn't hamper the creation of excellent work. GUN CRAZY isn't flawless. It suffers from a split stylization wherein the standard but very fine in-studio work never truly blends with the refreshing on-location shots. The film also drags out some very unconvincing dime-store psychoanalysis in the opening scenes, attempting to explain away Bart Tare's firearm obsession in open court: "He always loved guns, your honor. But he don't like killin' things."

With the highly adaptable help of cinematographer Russell Harlan, Lewis keeps the film on an even keel. Creatively, Lewis appears to have been more inventive outdoors- the point of view shot from inside the crime car as it prowls a small town's streets is still quite radical.
John Dall (THE CORN IS GREEN; SPARTACUS), who never really seemed at ease before the camera, gives a fairly relaxed performance here. But Dall and the entire film gets an enormous boost the second Peggy Cummins enters the frame (see her in NIGHT OF THE DEMON). As Laurie Starr she is spunky and unapologetic. With her high, glowing forehead, and wide, pouty mouth, Cummins dominates the film, thrusting her brazen portrayal of a status-seeking sociopath run amok right in your face.

The director turns on the artistry in the final scene: trapped in a fogbound swamp, the mud-splattered fugitives lay in wait, whispering hopefully to each other, as the law closes in.
Noirs to see: DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944); MURDER, MY SWEET (1944); THE BIG SLEEP (1946); THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950); RIFIFI (1952); TOUCH OF EVIL (1958).

m
Monolith
Dec 05, 2015

I don't know why they changed the original title, "Deadly Is The Female", because that was a helluva lot more appropriate, and summed things up in a nutshell for this one. Pint-sized Peggy Cummins was nihilistic, narcissistic, and lusting for the blood of anyone with the sad misfortune of gettin' in her way. The authentic camera work while driving caught my attention even before I looked up the details involved in filming it on IMDb. An excellent noir.

f
Fuzzy_Wuzzy
Nov 29, 2015

Released in 1949 - Gun Crazy (a.k.a. Deadly Is The Female) is the "Bonnie and Clyde" story retooled for the disillusioned postwar generation. This flick is considered by many movie-connoisseurs to be the ultimate B-Movie Extraordinaire - Where shades of Film Noir abound like fireflies.

Gun Crazy's fast-paced story is jet-propelled along by numerous stick-ups, a dominant femme fatale, an erotic love/obsession for guns, and a deadly sexual attraction between two trigger-happy sharp-shooters who quite willingly substitute violent gunplay for sex.

This low-budget, stylistic film stars 2 unknown leads (Peggy Cummings and John Dall) as a pair of crazy, white-trash, itchy-fingered criminals on a frantic cross-country run from the law.

As sociopathic as a duo could possibly get back in a 1940's film, characters Annie Starr and Bart Tare accidentally meet up one day and "before-you-know-it" go on the ultimate date of a life-time. Their non-Cinderella like romance includes a crazy, high-energy robbery/shooting spree that, once the law catches up with them, inevitably leads to their sensationalistic deaths.

a
atfrancis
Jul 18, 2015

Film noir masterpiece. Creative, outrageous and a lot of fun.
Femme fatale Peggy Cummins is brilliant.

n
Nursebob
Jul 06, 2015

Nothing captures America’s preoccupation with sex, power, and violence quite like this stylish noir about two zealous firearms enthusiasts shootin’ and smoochin’ their way across the land in what amounts to NRA pistol porn. Penned anonymously by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, this quintessential film noir revels in elaborately staged B&W cinematography and tense, wholly believable dialogue delivered by stars Peggy Cummins and John Dall as if they were actually living their parts. Hyper realistic at times (most of the road scenes were filmed in a real car with either Cummins or Dall at the wheel and one bank heist was so true to life it had an unwitting bystander screaming for the police) yet ending on a surreal note that borders on gothic horror, "Gun Crazy" is a sobering fairy tale in which nary a word or camera shot is wasted. Riddled with bullets and steeped in suspense (not to mention a bit of muted eroticism), this is one B-movie that scores an A+.

m
marx_bro
Apr 03, 2015

Pretty good vintage film noir flick. Sideshow trick marksman & marks-woman team-up for a cross country crime spree.

Froster Nov 29, 2014

It's astonishing how at the right time, in the right place, with the right director, and the right cast....what could have been sub-par reaches the sublime. "Gun Crazy", even more than it's most-often mentioned counterpart, "Detour", is a diamond-hard masterpiece. And both hinge on the ferocious, almost deranged performances by their leading ladies. Even if this film had not been as technically adept as it is (and it is a marvel), Peggy Cummins' performance would stand out--inviting comparison to those by Mary Astor, Ann Savage, Barbara Stanwyck, Ella Raines and Jane Greer, in similar noir classics. But she is really something special: the performance is literally scary as she plays every note of fear, obsession, dependence, defensiveness, horniness, scorn, and self-loathing (and sometimes all of them at the same time). And her performance is only one of the reasons to rejoice, here. The film is a must-see.

7duffy Oct 20, 2014

Low budget, but both stylized and documentary style. It all works. Released in 1949, the film could easily fit in with some of John Cassevettes 1960's movies of stark realism. Great use of one shot camera's during the robberies. Definitely ahead of it's time. Precursor to 1950's films that supposedly bordered (with heavy production values) on taboo subjects. This one actually does. I think you can draw a direct line from this movie's inlfuence to several others, with Natural Born Killers being the film I am reminded of most.

p
pianomarket
Aug 20, 2014

This movie was a box office flop when it was released in 1949, but what saves this DVD is the commentary by the film historian Glenn Erickson. He makes a strong case to rank this film noir B movie as a classic despite the shallow acting by today's standards. And you will learn that the great film directors Francois Truffant and Jean-Luc Godart borrowed from this movie! A tip, watch the commentary first and then you will truly be charged up to watch the movie.

e
Ellington4
Oct 10, 2011

Deservedly rated as one of the top ten film noirs of all time. Suspensful, creatively filmed and extremely well acted.

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