Seven Shadows – Day Six: GUN CRAZY by Andrew D.

Running Time: 86 minutes
Directed By: Joseph H. Lewis
Written By: MacKinlay Kantor, Millard Kaufman
Main Cast: John Dall, Peggy Cummins, Berry Kroeger, Anabel Shaw, Harry Lewis

Third time’s the charm here at Shadows and Satin as I return for my third and final installment that will appear on this blog. Today, we take a look at a film that didn’t really come off to me as a film noir and apparently I’m not alone, as THE BOOK also makes mention of this discrepancy. However, there’s no denying that this is a great movie and one that I’m eager to tell you about.

Bart Tare (Dall) is fascinated with guns. It’s almost like a fetish he has, even stooping to breaking out the window of a hardware store when he’s a juvenile, in order to get his hands on a revolver. He’s not a killer or anything, though; in fact, he cringes at the thought of shooting any living creature and instead focuses on fixed targets and such. After the hardware store incident, Bart is sentenced to reform school for four years and after that he joins the army. When he’s a grown man, he returns to his place of birth. Bart has turned out to be a respectable gentleman, still in love with guns, but reformed due to his days in the military. Upon arriving home, his two childhood buddies offer to treat him to a night at the carnival. Bart accepts and while there, sees a female sharpshooter named Annie Laurie Starr (Cummins). When the carny challenges a member of the audience to test their skills against Laurie, Bart’s friends coax him to accept. Bart outshoots Laurie and is offered a job traveling with the carnival. Later, the two end up falling in love and breaking away from the carnival, when the carny gets a little too possessive with Laurie. The two get married and try their best to make a life for themselves, but they have no money and times are tough. What follows is a Bonnie and Clyde like crime spree, with Laurie and Bart holding up convenience stores, then later banks and payrolls.

This review shouldn’t take long as I really don’t have a lot to say. I’ve often said on my own blog that sometimes I wish I could convince myself to come to a review, simply write “I liked it because I liked it” and call it a day. Sometimes a movie just appeals to me in a way that I really can’t describe why I liked it. Gun Crazy just happened to be a film that was right up my alley and I was kicking myself afterwards for having waited twenty-eight years to see this gem. Yes, Gun Crazy was inspired by the Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker crime spree, but you know what? This movie was worlds better than the Beatty/Dunaway adaptation of those same events, at least in my opinion. John Dall was brilliant (as he was in Rope) and Peggy Cummins played the mean, little fireball to a T.

Apparently this movie inspired Jean-Luc Godard to make Breathless and you can actually really see that. The outfits that the characters wore, especially Laurie in her beret and trench coat, wielding a gun and being pulled down the street by Bart, seemed to foreshadow the French New Wave and the films of guys like Godard and Melville. This is another great example of a classic movie that you could show to someone who is ignorant to black & white cinema and refuses to watch it. I think Gun Crazy has a mass appeal and I think people who say they don’t like it are going to have to come up with some pretty convincing arguments, because it’s a hard one not to like. If I had to nitpick about anything, I’d say that it could have been a little longer. For the most part, things seemed a bit rushed and I could’ve used at least one more scene of serious suspense. But again, that’s just me finding things to gripe about and really this one is easy to love. Suffice it to say that I’m crazy about Gun Crazy!

RATING: 8/10  Well I’d say we’re 3 for 3 in “Seven Shadows Week”, as this, Mildred Pierce and Out of the Past have all exceeded my expectations. We’ll let The Asphalt Jungle be the deciding vote in determining whether this week was a success or failure on my personal tastes.

(Gun Crazy is the 216th entry in the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book.)

Click here to visit Andrew’s site for my take on Gun Crazy, and tune in tomorrow for our seventh and final day of Seven Shadows, when our movie of the day will be The Asphalt Jungle, starring Sterling Hayden, Sam Jaffe, and Jean Hagen. Our final posts for Seven Shadows will be here and at 1001 Movies I [Apparently] MUST See Before I Die starting at 12 noon!  (Karen H.)

~ by shadowsandsatin on May 6, 2012.

4 Responses to “Seven Shadows – Day Six: GUN CRAZY by Andrew D.”

  1. Andrew, I’ll admit I’ve heard a lot about GUN CRAZY, but I’ve never had the opportunity to actually watch it! Thanks to your compelling review, I’ll make it a point to catch up with it!

  2. Great write up for a fantastic film. The heist scenes in particular were thrilling to see the first time (riding with them in the car).

  3. Gun Crazy is a good film, but I can’t agree with your assessment of it being better than the 1967 film. It is difficult to beat an Arthur Penn directed film.

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