Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gun Crazy (1950) Film Review - aka Deadly is the Female

Plot Summary - Stylish film noir starring John Dall and Peggy Cummins as Bart and Annie Laurie, a couple who bond via their love of guns as they travel about pulling a bunch of stick-up jobs. Bart has always had a gun obsession - his childhood spent moving from slingshot to BB gun to a real gun that he brings to school to stealing a gun from a shop window and getting sent to reform school. Bart grows up and still likes to shoot (it makes him feel like he's "somebody") - but he's basically a good guy until that fateful day when he goes to a local travelling carnival and sees the performance of Annie Laurie Starr, a seductive sharpshooter who appears on stage in tight black slacks, gun holster, and two pistols blazing. He goes up against her in a shooting match for cash, then gets offered a job with the show. The sparks are soon flying between the two of them, but the jealous boss (who says he "has a claim" on the girl) fires them both. They head off in their car, get married at the Justice of the Peace, and soon find themselves broke. Okay - seems this is one dangerous blonde bad girl he's got on his hands - she admits she's "no good", she wants action and "big money" to buy lots of things and she's gonna get it. She pushes him into going on a crime spree: stealing cars, wearing disguises, pulling robberies, and stealing cash at gunpoint. He's no killer and is afraid someone will get hurt - she's not afraid to kill. He wants out - but agrees to one last big job that will make them rich, and they come up with an elaborate scheme to steal the payroll from a big meat plant.

Review - This is one really excellent crime drama, tense and exciting, I was pretty much on the edge of my seat for the entire second half. The film is very atmospheric, full of classic film noir elements like neon signs and rain-soaked streets - there's an interesting scene of snow flakes drifting down as the girl looks out the window in close-up. The art direction, lighting, and cinematography as a whole is stylishly done and features many tracking shots, extreme close-ups and sweat glistening faces which adds to the tension. I love all the shots done with the camera set behind the front seat and looking out through the car window as the two of them drive about committing crimes. Actress Peggy Cummins gives one of the best performances playing a femme fatale I've seen - riveting and memorable. The Warner Bros. DVD of this features an exceptional looking black and white print, very sharp. As good as it gets. Rating - 10/10 stars

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