Plot: Bart (John Dall) has always been fascinated by guns, even a child he would devote time to weapons, from slingshots to BB guns and beyond. A brush with the law happened when he stole a real gun from a store window and although he showed no signs of violence, his fixation with guns led to a stint in reform school. A later run in the military was a natural road to take, but once he is home and out of the service, Bart struggles to find his place and purpose in the world. But he finds some ambition when he visits a carnival and encounters Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins), a beautiful sharpshooter who captures his attention. After the two duel in a shooting challenge, the sparks fly and Bart not only falls for Laurie, but joins up with the circus. That is short lived however and soon, the young couple is on their own and turn to small crimes to support themselves, but how long can their spree last?
Entertainment Value: I love this movie, as it feels so raw and powerful, a film noir b movie that never fails to enrapture and entertain. I know some dismiss Gun Crazy because it isn’t as polished as some of the genre’s best, but to me, that is part of what makes it work so well. The rough, raw texture is what drives the movie and makes it stand out, more than compensating for the film’s lack of technical grace. The pace is brisk and while the flashback introduction takes a bit to unfold, it is valuable to the narrative and still doesn’t feel drawn out. Once Bart visits the carnival, the movie begins to truly shine and as things escalate from there, Gun Crazy is just an immense amount of fun to watch. The relationship between the leads is the core of the movie and it is a dark, twisted romance that pushes both beyond the brink, though Laurie is firmly behind the wheel and steers Bart as she pleases. The bold, reckless road the two take is a wild one and is never short on thrills. I simply adore Gun Crazy and would recommend it to anyone with even a casual interest in film noir or classic movies in general, as it such a fun, dynamic picture.
The movie as a whole is a lot of fun, but the highlight has to be the presence of Peggy Cummins, who goes for broke in one of the lead roles. She brings such a strong screen presence to Gun Crazy and nails the unstable, femme fatale approach. The way she manhandles Bart is masterful and she is such a beautiful, charismatic woman, it is easy to how she could manage to do so. To me, she turns in one of the great bad girls of film noir performances here, one that is so much fun to watch and is simply impossible to forget. John Dall is also solid in his effort here, but Cummins is such a firebrand, she tends to outshine the rest of the cast. Also on the roster are Berry Kroeger, Anabel Shaw, and even a young Russ Tamblyn. As I said, Gun Crazy isn’t as polished or refined as some of its peers, but it uses that raw texture to help elevate the material and instill a unique atmosphere. This is one I couldn’t have a collection without, so of course, I issue it our highest recommendation.