Original Title: “Deadly is the Female”
Directed by Joseph Lewis
Written by: MacKinlay Kantor and Dalton Trombo
Starring Peggy Cummings and John Dall
Personally I prefer the movie’s original title, “Deadly is the Female”. Modern pop culture has certainly upped the anti for what qualifies as “Gun Crazy”. Any Tarentino, Rambo or any HBO series flick pack enough flying metal to sink a battleship. Today Bart’s shiny sharp shooters seem quaint, even prissy in comparison.
However, none of these modern flicks present us with a female character like Annie Laurie Starr. Like her obvious namesake, Annie Oakley, Annie Laurie is a dead shot. Prissy? No way. From the moment Annie steps on stage at the carnival it’s a thrill ride for Bart and the audience.
The beginning of Gun Crazy takes great pains to set up Young Bart as a sweet kid with a self control problem. Bart ping pongs back and forth from baby chick killer to remorseful orphan and back to Delinquent. Later, after discharge from the army, Bart wanders around without a job. Upon entering the sharp shooter tent Bart is transfixed and transported from his aimless existence. The shooting contest with Annie is close. Bart wins the battle, but loses the war. From now on Annie calls the shots.
Bart and Annie recklessly consume everything in their path. Food, alcohol, money and furs fly through their fingers. Bart quibbles about doing to robberies but enthusiastically participates once they are underway. They bounce from town to town burning rubber until Bart returns home to hideout. It is at the bitter end that Bart finally masters the self control to put an end to the craziness.
Like many fine film noirs, the director Joseph Lewis lets the visuals tell a lot of the story. And, it is ultimately the visuals that cement this films reputation as a great cult noir . It’s been 65 years, but the getaway scenes hold up.
Check them out for yourself. The movie is a free download. The original posters are not so free.