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Gun Crazy

4.4 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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(Jul 06, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A collection of classic film noir.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: NR
Release Date: 6-JUL-2004
Media Type: DVD

One of the most vital of all film noir pictures, Gun Crazy has more cinematic gusto and sexual heat than almost any movie of its time. It's a variation on the Bonnie and Clyde story, but with a bizarre set-up: firearms enthusiasts John Dall and Peggy Cummins (neither of whom were ever this wild again) meet as sharpshooters in a carnival, then turn to crime. The direction, by Joseph H. Lewis, is like a spray of hot lead from a gun barrel, capped by an amazing sequence--shot in one long take--of a bank robbery seen from the backseat of the getaway car. (Billy Wilder himself called up Lewis to find out how he did it.) If most film noirs trace the anxieties of postwar America, Gun Crazy goes directly to sheer madness. Trivia note: the film had a title change, to Deadly Is the Female, for its original release, whereupon it was changed back. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: John Dall, Peggy Cummins, Berry Kroeger, Morris Carnovsky, Anabel Shaw
  • Directors: Joseph H. Lewis
  • Writers: Dalton Trumbo, MacKinlay Kantor, Millard Kaufman
  • Producers: Frank King, Maurice King
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 6, 2004
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000244EWY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,974 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Gun Crazy" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Over the years, I had seen the striking, lurid poster for "Gun Crazy" in various film books ( nicely rendered on the DVD cover ), but I had never actually seen the movie. Well, the movie knocked me out ! This has to be one of the greatest "B" movies of all time. It was also briefly titled "Deadly is the Female", very "film noirish" and appropriate.
I will not reveal too many details about the plot--other reviewers have covered it extensively ( perhaps in some cases too extensively ). Bart Tare ( John Dall ) has had a passion for guns his whole life. At a carnival, he meets a sideshow sharpshooter from London, Annie Laurie Starr ( Peggy Cummins ). They are soon sharing not only a passion for guns, but an intense passion for each other ! Falling under the spell of this charismatic, young blonde--who craves excitement, action and the finer things in life--Bart is drawn into a cross-country crime spree that escalates from robbery to murder.
As one of the best "femme fatale" types in film history, Peggy Cummins gives a rivetting performance. You can't take your eyes off her, as she fanatically plunges down a road from which there is no return, taking the man she loves with her. Her character steals money--Ms. Cummins steals the movie ! As Bart, John Dall is rather stoic and one-dimensional until later in the film, when he realizes the harm he is causing others, including those who were close friends. His performance really picks up in the later scenes. Incidentally, Bart as a youth is played by Russ Tamblyn, later to spark a number of movies with his dancing and acrobatic skills.
The other "star" here is the Director, Joseph H. Lewis. His approach is refreshing and innovative. I particularly liked the scenes where you--the audience--are in the back seat of the getaway car during a heist.
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Format: VHS Tape
"Gun Crazy" was recently included in the National Film Registry and has been called by many the greatest B film ever made. Joseph Lewis, an ingenious director noted for getting astounding results from small budgets, made two of the most acclaimed B successes in film annals, the other being "The Big Combo." In the latter film he had recent Oscar-winning screenwriter Philip Yordan put his ideas on paper. With the 1949 psychological noir spellbinder "Gun Crazy" Lewis had future Pulitzer Prize-winning author MacKinlay Cantor adapt his story to the screen along with future Oscar-winning scenarist Dalton Trumbo, whose name credit for the film is Millard Kaufman, a move resulting from the uncertainty of the blacklist period.
"Gun Crazy" includes one of the most unusual seduction scenes recorded on film. When the ultimately wayward love duo of John Dall and Peggy Cummins initially meet it is at a traveling carnival, where the sexy young blonde is the Annie Oakley-styled sharpshooter. She takes on all comers in competition, and meets more than her match in Dall, who ultimately triumphs over her. This is the only scene you will ever see where an act of seduction occurs while the sharpshooters take turns shooting out candles atop each other's heads. The more intense the competition, the greater the sexual intensity building between the pair. Cummins ends up more intrigued and sexually aroused than ever after losing the competition to Dall, displaying open admiration for the only sharpshooter to defeat her at her own game.
Before long they pull out of the carnival, infuriating the carnival's boss, who was Cummins' lover. Dall immediately proposes and they marry, despite Cummins' cautionary warning that she is "no good." Totally smitten, Dall tells her that she will become a better person.
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Format: VHS Tape
Gun Crazy is a tale of the symbiotic relationship between two sharpshooters: he's a gentle soul who likes guns and loves her; she's a psychopath who winds him up like a cheap watch.
They rob their way across mid-west, get chased by the cops, kill a few people on the way. But when push comes to shove, when the smart money says "split up", they can't bear to be apart.
It's a Pre-"Bonnie and Clyde" "Bonnie And Clyde"; a perverse mixture of sadism and sympathy.
For Afficionadoes:
Joseph H Lewis was on of those B-Movie directors who knew how to make his limitations into strengths. As a result there are some amazing camera moves, car-rigs, lighting set-ups, and all round great cutting.
The set-piece is the one-take real-time bank robbery, shot in a town of people most of whome didn't know anyone was making a film. It saved Lewis a day of shooting, and I haven't seen it's equal.
The Practicle Car-Rigs used were unusual for their time (there's very little rear-projection.
For Everyone Else:
Non-Stop and Never A Dull Moment.
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Format: DVD
One of the all-time great films noir and a bona fide cult classic, "Gun Crazy" is one of the handful of cinematic gems chosen for inclusion in the United States National Film Registry. The story revolves around a sexually repressed young man who has grown up obsessed with the power of guns; one fine day he meets up with a sexy blonde carnival sharpshooter and the rest, as they say, is history. Soon the two lovers are trapped in a vortex of greed, desire, violence, and murder which quickly proceeds to spin out of control before it finally ends viciously one dawn in a fog-shrouded swamp. A minor masterpiece featuring a smouldering performance by British actress Peggy Cummins (who, in 1947, had been replaced in the title role of Fox's "Forever Amber" due to her perceived lack of sex appeal) as the brutal femme fatale, and a career-defining one by former Oscar nominee John Dall (Best Supporting Actor 1945 for "The Corn Is Green") as her fresh-faced-but-deadly cohort. Tightly directed by Joseph H. Lewis, the film is enriched by Victor Young's moody score and Russell Harlan's exquisite black and white cinematography.

The Warner Brothers DVD release of this long-awaited film features an impeccable audio and video transfer that can truly be described as pristine. The disc includes a running commentary by author and film historian Glenn Erickson; none of the other usual amenities like the Original Theatrical Trailer or even production notes are included. Sure it would be nice to have a full complement of "extras", but their absence in no way compromises the excellence of the overall package. Very highly recommended and a definite "must own" for fans and cultists alike.
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