31 March 2010

A Woman's Movie: Gun Crazy

It even looks foreign

Annie Laurie Starr is a carnie sharp - shooter who has a love for pulling the trigger when flesh and blood is standing in front of it. Actress Peggy Cummins had the Fay Dunaway beret thing going twenty years before Bonnie and Clyde. John Dall is her boyfriend Barton Tare. He's had a thing for the iron since he was a kid but can't bear the thought of shooting another human. They make a great couple.

Dall didn't have much of a career as an actor but he's great in this and like Orson Welles said, "You only need one." It's the only noir film I've seen that looks bright and clean thanks to plenty of day exteriors. The whole 40's hand painted tie and boxed double breasted suit look is also gone while the picture presents an almost French - Ivy aesthetic. Made in 1949, it could easily pass for 1959. Hell, maybe even 1969. Beautiful photography rounds out the production and convinces me a lot of people in the film business couldn't wait to rip it off.

The picture, except for a slow opening, moves like a semi jacketed 150 grain .357 and there's no rest. Annie moves just as fast and poor Bart seems overwhelmed by it all. Still, he always insists on driving and to that I can relate.


Anonymous said...

It's a cult classic. I never put a French spin on it like you did, though. That's brilliant. It does look ahead of its time, almost "Breathless" (A Bout de Souffle - 1960), so you're about right with your theory.

The thing I admired about Gun Crazy was how they shot from the rear seat view during the drive-ups and fleeing of their robberies, an early sort of cinema verite, also presaging French New Wave. You really don't get that point-of-view again until Vertigo when James Stewart follows Kim Novak around San Francisco in his car in a sort of slow-motion stalking/investigation. Bonus: In both films you get a better idea of "street life" going on in the background periphery because of the lack of staging by the filmmakers.

I want that convertible she drives.


Anonymous said...

My husband also refuses to ride bitch. Men. I'll have to check this film out. BTW, either thanks to your review or by some strange coincidence, Make Way For Tomorrow had an exceptionally long wait on Netflix. It arrives today. I'll let you know how many tissues it takes to get through the viewing. D

tintin said...

DB- Oddly enough, Dall was in Rope w/ Stewart.

D- Ride Bitch...That's a new one for me...and I like it. Make Way was never released on VHS or DVD. There's been a huge wait so I didn't have anything to do with it.

Let me know what you think. I tear up just thinking about it but then I cried when Raquel Welch was killed in the Four Musketeers.