How about a best of film noir called Gun Crazy? Does that say it all or what? I have to admit, this is one I haven’t seen in a long time, but it’s on my DVR so I’m looking forward to watching it again soon. This is the story about a husband and wife team (can you say Bonnie and Clyde) who go on a deadly interstate robbery spree. Gun Crazy is one film noir that has a great noir hero and a stereotypical femme fatale.
The Best of Film Noir – The Noir Hero, Drug Down By The Woman He Loves
John Dall plays Barton Tare, a man who loves guns. Tare leaves the army and ends up meeting the perfect girl. Ah, but is she so perfect? She’s beautiful and she happens to be deadly with a gun herself. Poor Tare, he’s at heart a gentle soul, not at all prepared for his deadly marriage to the femme fatale. And he’s doomed because of the life he chose and cannot escape from. Some see Dall as miscast, but others feel that he’s the perfect choice to play a softer noir hero who falls so heavily for the girl.
The Best of Film Noir – The Femme Fatale – And Is She Ever
Peggy Cummins plays Anne Laurie Starr, a ruthless, bored and restless woman who easily seduces Tare. Gun Crazy uses a lot of sexual innuendo, and this is apparent in Starr’s love of a man who knows how to use his gun. Starr is a contrast, smooth and seductive one minute, ready to kill in the next. And she is the one who brings the noir hero down…ah, so typical of the film noir genre. It’s interesting to note that the original title was Deadly Is The Female, and Starr was just that…the perfect femme fatale.
The Best of Film Noir – The Direction
I like to equate a movie director to an editor. Someone writes the screenplay, and the director (editor) can either make or break the movie. A great director can help the screenplay author see where the story can be improved. A bad director can trash a great story. In Gun Crazy, director Joseph H. Lewis does some brilliant things with the direction, filming scenes in such a way that it really escalates the tension. Many see the ending of Gun Crazy as brilliant, filmed to leave the viewer feeling worlds away from the mean streets where most of the action had previously occurred. Film noir expect Eddie Mueller writes:
Joseph H. Lewis’s direction is propulsive, possessed of a confident, vigorous simplicity that all the frantic editing and visual pyrotechnics of the filmmaking progeny never quite surpassed.
Mueller also says this about Gun Crazy (I love this quote):
No picture before or since has more deliriously used side arms as sexual symbols. Loopy, corny, overheated, but one big adrenaline rush of creative moviemaking from start to finish.
The Best of Film Noir – Trivia
I love film trivia and I can’t resist putting in a few things (thanks to IMDb for these):
In the opening shot, Bart’s collar changes positions between cuts.
The sheriff takes his arm off the back of the bench twice.
When Bart grabs Annie arm to prevent her from shooting an employee of the bank as the alarm sounds, they run to their getaway car and you can see the cameraman’s reflection for a moment as he rides past the window on a dolly.
After Bart and Annie ditch the car in the mountains and are on foot, Annie says she’s tired. He tells her it’s because of the altitude. At the end they’re in a swamp. A swamp in the mountains at high altitude?
So grab your popcorn and soda and hunker down for a rip-roaring fun film, and know that I’ll be right there watching with you.
If you like mysteries and film noir, check out The Maltese Felon, Reed Ferguson’s latest adventure.
5 Star Review
THE MALTESE FELON provides clever plotting, a definite sense of urgency and, for your reading pleasure, a deliciously twisted ending. That alone gets five stars from me.
Reed Ferguson is the newest cool detective on the bookshelves. Reed is the best kind of detective; he’s one of us. He hasn’t got massive muscles and wields a gun with ease. He takes a licking, but keeps on ticking. He uses good old fashion brains to solve cases. This is a great series that I am sure will garner many fans and hopefully we’ll be reading for years to come.