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Gun Crazy (1949)

Cast: Peggy Cummins, Peggy Cummins, John Dall, more...
Director: Joseph H. Lewis, Joseph H. Lewis
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Warner Home Video
Genre: Cult, Film Noir
Running Time: 87 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Recently Rented By Cinenaut

The definitive Joseph H. Lewis-directed melodrama, Gun Crazy is the "Bonnie and Clyde" story retooled for the disillusioned postwar generation. John Dall plays a timorous, emotionally disturbed World War II veteran who has had a lifelong fixation with guns. He meets a kindred spirit in carnival sharpshooter Peggy Cummins, who is equally disturbed -- but a lot smarter, and hence a lot more dangerous. Beyond their physical attraction to one another, both Dall and Cummins are obsessed with firearms. They embark on a crime spree, with Cummins as the brains and Dall as the trigger man. As sociopathic a duo as are likely to be found in a 1940s film, Dall and Cummins are also perversely fascinating. As they dance their last dance before dying in a hail of police bullets, the audience is half hoping that somehow they'll escape the Inevitable. Some critics have complained that Dall is far too effeminate and Cummins too butch, but Joseph H. Lewis was never known to draw anything in less than broad strokes: recall the climax of Terror in a Texas Town, wherein Sterling Hayden participates in a western showdown armed with a whaler's harpoon. The best and most talked-about scene in Gun Crazy is the bank robbery sequence, shot in "real time" from the back seat of Dall and Cummins' getaway car. Originally slated for Monogram release, Gun Crazy enjoyed a wider exposure when its producers, the enterprising King Brothers, chose United Artists as the distributor. The film was based on a magazine article by MacKinlay Kantor; one of the scenarists was uncredited blacklistee Dalton Trumbo. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Special Feature:

  • Commentary by Author/Film-Noir Specialist Glenn Erickson

GreenCine Member Reviews

Deady is the Female by eifert July 7, 2004 - 5:18 PM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Originally titled Deadly Is the Female, Gun Crazy is a crackling film noir crime thriller. Inspiring many great films, including Breathless and Bonnie and Clyde, this black and white gem moves at a break neck pace after the two leads decide to live a life of crime. One scene, shot from the backseat of the getaway car in one take, shows the two leads Peggy Cummins and John Dall commit a daring bank robbery. The scene's dialog and acting has a documentary feel and seems improvised. Even though the film was good up until that point, I was not expecting such a fine piece of directing and acting right in the middle of the film.

The caper that puts them over the top features the evil Cummins looking over her shoulder smiling at her gun shot victims. Dall is stiff and initially seems miscast as the "gun crazy" partner of Cummins. He seems to be acting almost like nice guy Jimmy Stewart. As the film goes on it's clear that he IS a nice guy and he's being lead along by his lust for Cummins. She is clearly in charge. And what chemistry the two sharp shooters have. There's no doubt that these two are like dogs in heat.

The film ends with the couple trapped in the fog surrounded by tall grass. It's spooky and uses sound to enhance the tension. Well worth the rental. The DVD transfer is excellent and the commentary is very good.

A great story of two people trying to survive on love and their guns alone.

"We go together, Annie. I don't know why. Maybe like guns and ammunition go together."

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.47)
95 Votes
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Jonathan Rosenbaum's Alternative List to the AFI's
From Rosenbaum's 1998 article in the Chicago Reader: List-o-mania, Or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love American Movies (Films were listed alphabetically only.)
Cautionary Tales For Males
I liked someone else's idea for a list of movies on this topic so I decided to make one of my own

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