Gun Crazy Screen 21 articles

Gun Crazy


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  • Its dialogue sort of rolls over and dies in the mouths of Dall and Cummings (who frequently sounds like a morose, tanked-up Judy Garland). But it’s easy to see why auteurists like Sarris insist even today (when psychosexual interpretations of gunplay come off as a punchline rather than serious foreplay) in holding up the film as a model of directorial expression. Lewis, through sheer force of will, turns the script’s easy ways out into the essence of blunt, adolescent sexual flowering.

  • Rather than consider Gun Crazy as a story with an edifying conclusion, supported by pathological causes-as we appear to be invited to do-we see in it one of the rarest contemporary illustrations of L’AMOUR FOU (in all senses of the word, of course) which, according to André Breton, “takes” here “ALL THE POWER”. Gun Crazy would then appear to be a kind of Golden Age of American film noir.

  • The superlative qualities of Gun Crazy are precisely those which only the director can give: a combined sense of pacing, élan, and dynamic composition.

  • One of the most distinguished works of art to emerge from the B movie swamp, Joseph H. Lewis's 1949 film is a proto-Bonnie and Clyde tale of an outlaw couple on the run. Lewis's long takes and sure command of film noir staples (shadows, fog, rain-soaked streets) make this a stunning technical achievement, but it's something more--a gangster film that explores the limits of the form with feeling and responsibility.

  • It has risen from its B-picture origins to take an honored place in the tradition of doomed outcast couples on the run... Lewis, with several other noir classics to his credit, was one of the more interesting cult discoveries of the revisionist '60s.

  • The Hampton robbery scene remains astonishing, but, watching "Gun Crazy again recently, what was most surprising and affecting was the aftermath of the robbery, when Dall and Cummings [sic] have to separate. The scene is a ravishing culmination of the romantic fatalism that's at the core of all film noir, an unexpected and unorthodox love scene that looks like a getaway but functions really asa formal dramatic reconciliation with destiny.

  • Brisk, percussive, a veritable primer for intelligent camera placement and a film of great plastic beauty besides... This is the kind of movie they don't make any more—and it's as if they never did.

  • It's regarded as the best film Lewis made, although it is not as ambitious or successful formally as The Big Combo. In many ways, Gun Crazy is Lewis’s most simple work, and so his most consistent. The integration of character and action, and the operation of l’amour fou in the film are the clearest realizations of these elements which underlie other Lewis films.

  • What goes together like guns and ammunition? For fans of classic noir, the only answer is Annie Laurie Starr and Bart Tare, the sharpshooting outlaw couple in Gun Crazy. Joseph H. Lewis’s mesmerizing film noir is just about as pulpy as they come, with its unironic dialogue and seedy environments.

  • All noir heroes have unhealthy compulsions and a nose for trouble, but none are as victimized by their impulses as John Dall in 1949's spectacularly lurid B-movie Gun Crazy.

  • If The Undercover Man‘s sober investigations and emphasis on the citizenry exercising its own power embodied its historical moment, then the delirious Gun Crazy changed it. Not the first runaway criminal lovers picture, it was nevertheless the first to render the amoral excitement of criminality as sexual release, its profane energy rupturing Hollywood’s conventions.

  • The legacy of Joseph H. Lewis was cemented by GUN CRAZY, a B noir whose audacity well exceeds its small budget. The film's visual ingenuity is still remarkable: Lewis stages tracking shots in reverse, creates odd compositions that intentionally leave faces or key actions out of the frame, and—most famously—shoots a bank robbery in a single long take from the back of a car.

  • Peggy Cummins makes an indelible impression as Annie Laurie. It is one of my favorite performances of all time... While she does use Barton in order to free herself from the circus, you also get the sense that she needs him, she can’t breathe without him. It makes for a truly disturbing picture, because you get caught up in their weird violent little belljar, and you start to root for the both of them, even though they are wreaking havoc. It is their bond that cannot be denied.

  • Though it certainly helps that the movie is so brilliantly filmed (that gritty back seat long take in the car to and from the robbery is stellar and _had_ to have influenced the French New Wave), is violently romantic, features nonstop action and, of course, loads of shooting, it's the presence of a female who, though toxic, asserts such authority, that's especially intriguing here.

  • [Annie and Bart's] immediate magnetism toward each other suggests the inextricable relationship between guns and death, the same way that Bart’s seemingly amoral thefts are more harmful than he can allow himself to believe. Even with his pacifist ethos, people are still being hurt, and once the cycle starts the only way to end it is in an all-consuming act of violence.

  • The lovers’ crime spree is midway between You Only Live Once and Bonnie and Clyde, Joseph H. Lewis charts it all with a perverse artisan’s dynamic glee, one wicked jolt after another. Pulp Freudianism is dispensed humorously, Dall polishes a pistol’s barrel while Cummins slides on her black stockings under a white bathrobe, the office matron who censures the heroine for donning slacks is last seen taking a blast to the face. Lewis’ freshness of invention is continuous, and continuously startling

  • It might be reductive to take every gun in film history as a phallus, but Lewis’s brisk noir romp knows the power in doing so. Hays Code restrictions kept the central gun-equals-dick-equals-power-equals-sex tangle firmly in the realm of the metaphorical in this gun-loving-boy-meets-gun-loving-girl tale, but it works out in Gun Crazy’s favor.

  • The already-classic trope of lovers on the run, à la Bonnie and Clyde, gets a stylish workout from the director Joseph H. Lewis. His sly and insinuating angles lend the power of violence and the threat of death a sexual charge. The gritty texture of the on-location filming in Southern California heightens the arch wonder of the couple’s criminal schemes.

  • One of the greatest, most vital films noirs, in a league with Out of the Past andIn a Lonely Place, though it's more tawdry and feral than either.

  • Given that [screenwriter Dalton] Trumbo was facing a stint in federal prison for contempt of court (which he started serving a few months after Gun Crazy’s release), it’s easy to read a broader anger in the movie’s unchecked urges and frustrations, which combined with Lewis’ freedom of form—confident camera moves, long takes, shrouds of shadow and fog, macabre eroticism—to create one of the great works of art of the American B-movie. It lets it all out.

  • It’s not hard to see the range of Gun Crazy’s influence from the French New Wave to New Hollywood films like Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde. Gun Crazy (with a script by Dalton Trumbo) is a movie that, along with films like Edgar Ulmer’s Detour, managed to expand what a B-movie could be.

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