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: *****

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