Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Gun Crazy

From the first moment Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins) laid eyes on Bart Tare (John Dall) in Joseph H. Lewis' Gun Crazy, their fates were sealed. Their first interaction crackled with an energy you can only find in a picture from after World War II. (With a script co-penned by a blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, can you go wrong?)

Acting like a post-war Bonnie and Clyde (Cummins even dresses like Faye Dunaway would the following decade), they commit robberies and live off their takes. But Bart knows this can't last forever so what will win out: his conscience or Laurie's insistence?

Dall nowadays is known for this and Rope, and it's interesting to see him play essentially both his and Farley Granger's roles from the earlier film in Gun Crazy. His Bart has Brandon's fascination for violence but also Phillip's nervous disposition towards it. To think there's only a two-year gap between the films.

But Cummins is the real draw of Gun Crazy. A devious mind beneath an innocent facade, her Laurie captures the more explosive nature of film noir of the era. (Laurie's bloodlust is prevalent in later titles of the genre.) Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, indeed.

Gun Crazy showcases the wanton desire of darkness lurking within human behavior, how even supposedly decent people crave danger. Even in the post-WWII era of filmmaking where everyone was pushing boundaries with each passing year, Lewis in particular was front and center. And boy, are we grateful for it.

My Rating: *****

2,000 Posts!

Frankly, I'm surprised to have been going at this for as long as I have, what with Defiant Success's fifteenth (!) anniversary in August.

Admittedly, a good chunk of the posts here aren't reviews but I'm still counting them for the impressive tally of two thousand posts since August 2009. Obviously, I would've made a bigger deal out of it but it slipped my mind and today's something of a somber anniversary for me (it's been eleven years since my father died suddenly). And my blogging has been sporadic these last few years courtesy of current events and my own mental health but I'll try to make up for lost time.

Anyway, here's to 2,000 posts and to another 2.000.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024


At first glance, Dario Argento's Suspiria appears seemingly innocuous. Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives in Germany to attend a dance academy. But it becomes clear that as soon as she steps out of the airport something'

Indeed, the general feeling of Suspiria is that something just isn't quite right. And Argento ensures that throughout, be it with the music (courtesy of him and Italian band Goblin) or simply the staging of the scene, there's that lingering sensation that all is not what it seems. And it isn't.

Made during a time when the horror genre was getting (pardon the pun) fresh blood, Suspiria -- amongst his other titles of the time -- showed that Argento was on that roster. Amid the likes of Brian De Palma and John Carpenter, he shows a more lurid fascination with bloodshed. Who'd have thought there's a beauty in it?

Akin to Cat People back in 1942 (and The Brood two years later), Suspiria revels in unease amid normalcy. Everything should be completely fine but that nagging feeling keeps gnawing at our lead. But how long until that question of "what's wrong?" gets cruelly answered?

Suspiria is a barrage on the senses in the best way possible. Argento immortalizes himself with a film that lingers in the mind long after watching it. And it's little wonder that there have been many admirers and imitators over the years; it's just there can only be one version of it.

My Rating: *****