Sunday, March 4, 2012

"Gun Crazy" with Peggy Cummins and John Dall (1949)

No film noir collection could be complete without this one in it. It's as cheezy as the cover looks, and maybe a bit more. The film starts out okay, a boyhood Bart Tare breaks into a gun shop and steals a pistol. He is immediately caught and sent to reform school, from which he graduates into the Army. After he gets out he returns to his hometown, now played by John Dall.

After meeting his two oldest friends, they agree to attend the local carnival. It's there where Bart meets Annie Laurie Starr, played by Peggy Cummins, a sharp shorter in a sideshow act. She shares Bart's fascination with guns. When he accepts a challenge, at 10 to 1 odds, he wins her instantly when he defeats her. After an argument with her manager concerning Bart, the two quit the sideshow and embark begin a crime spree, which is exactly what Bart would never have done on his own. He has clearly fallen victim to Annie, who now directs all their movements as they rob banks, gas stations and stores in a crime spree which is sure to end in disaster.

When Bart has an epiphany and wants to quit, Annie persuades him to take on just "one more job", which will set them up for life. Bart, thinking this is the quickest way out of the life he has fallen into, does what he did that night when he met her at the sideshow; he accepts her challenge to do "just one more job"; with predictable results.

Cool movie, if you're into a Mickey Spillane/Mike Hammer like type of scenario. Shot in black and white, in and around what seems to be Los Angeles in the late 1940's, the film is remarkably well preserved.

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