Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gun Crazy

The Warner Classics Film Noir box sets may have been some of the best gifts I have ever recieved. Granted, I have only gotten through 5 of the 10 films contained in these box sets since Christmas, while watching a ton of other stuff, but each film has been an absolute joy to watch. The last one I watched was Joseph A. Lewis's Gun Crazy.

Truth told the beginning Gun Crazy starts off a bit slow for me. While other great noirs like Out of the Pastslipped right into the action or some snappy dialogue, Gun Crazy finds a young Bart in the court room after stealing a gun. After some akward moments of moralizing and preachiness the movie takes off though.

Bart comes back to town after being sent away to a correctional school and the army and meets up with some friends. They go to the state fair and there is where we meet one of the great femme fatales, Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummings). She is a sharp shooter for the carnival and makes some good money when she takes challengers from the audience and challenges them for money. But, Bart (John Dall) is at the very least her equal and as the conduct their challenge in a very flirtatious way the trouble has just begun.

Of course Bart is gonna fall for her, and of course she is gonna use Bart for her ends. This leads to several robberies and a life on the run as notorious criminals. In between the robberies Bart attempts to come to grips and wants to lead a straight life, but he is always roped back in, by love or just by the power of Annie's personality. At one point in the commentary by film scholar Glenn Erickson, also included on the DVD disc we hear "If there is any doubt she's the villain it is erased here. She is willing to use the baby as a shield. That is wring no matter how you feel about the law, or crazy young lovers." She is the femme fatale and she is the one in control for most of the film.

The film goes almost like a Bonnie and Clyde, but of course it was made before, and in my mind at least is far better. It's stylized as hell, as well. The past year much has been mad eof teh celebrated "long takes" in Children of Men and The Death of Mr. Lazarascu. In Gun Crazy we have an entire bank heist and getaway filmed in one take from the vantage point of a backseat passanger, and it works brilliantly.

I mentioned the commentary already, but if one is to watch this DVD definitely watch it with the commentary as well afterwards. It's one of the better commentary tracks I have heard and is full of facts about more than just Gun Crazy, but noir and crime films in general. It increased my appreciation of what I already thought was a classic film.


Dennis Cozzalio said...

I'm guessing you'll really enjoy The Set-up too. Beautiful disc, terrifically tense movie. One of Robert Ryan's finest hours.

scot said...

Oh yeah, I definitely love The Set-Up as well. My favorite Robert Ryan movie I have seen so far. Pretty neat commentary track with Scorcese and Wise as well.

Tim Froh said...

I wish you could see Ryan in Ophuls' Caught. That performance blew me away with its totally understated callousness.

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