Gun Crazy
(1950, dir. Joseph H. Lewis)
Kino Lorber Blu-ray $24.95
RKO Radio Picture 87 min. / B&W / 1.37:1

A pair of carnival sharp-shooters embark on a (short) life of crime because she's got it bad for kicks and he's got it bad for her.

One of the great, quintessential film noirs and films of the '50s, with John Dall (from Rope) and Peggy Cummins (from Curse of the Demon). The film is beautifully written (by blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, using a front), shot (Russell Harlan, The Thing and To Kill a Mockingbird), and directed. Cummins is great and Dall - not much of an actor - is actually good. Sexy, exciting, engrossing, and simply a lot of fun to watch.

The film begins with the Dall character's back story (he's Rusty Tamblyn, the same year the star-to-be made The Kid from Cleveland), a per-pubescent who is fascinated with guns but who, when he kills a baby chick, feels so badly he develops a mental block that won't let him shoot a living thing, even a mountain lion that roams into town. Four years of reform school (he stole, what else, a gun) and four years in the army teaching sharpshooting courses and he's back, hooked up with childhood chums who are now a cop and a reporter, both careers that would be interested in what Dall's going to fall into once he meets up with Miss Cummins, beautiful but trigger-happy.

Million-dollar Dialog:

Gun Crazy's Sister to Judge: "It was as if the gun were simply something he had to have, just as other boys have to have jackknives or harmonicas or baseball bats."

The film's most celebrated sequence is a bank holdup, filmed all in one take from the back of the getaway car, as Peggy 'n' John drive into town, chit-chat (improvised dialog), find a parking space, and then take care of business (and a snoopy cop) before blazing away. Great, great scene.

Likeable, entertaining, beautifully shot and directed - this is one to show people who maybe wonder what "the fuss" is over old movies, or want to experience film noir. A great one, and the new Blu-ray is an appreciated upgrade over the previous DVD. It includes commentary by the Cinesavant. Good stuff.