Gun Crazy never gets old. It’s been called “probaby the most perfect B-movie ever made.”
It is often called a “cult” or “B” movies but don’t be fooled; it is short on unintentional “stoner” laughs.
Except for a few awful lines of dialogue (“We go together like guns and ammunition,”), the inexplicable presence of a swamp on top of a mountain, and plenty of warmed over Saturday-Evening-Post-level Freud (hey, it was 1950), Gun Crazy holds up astonishingly well.
That still (left) could be a Cindy Sherman photo.
And it doesn’t look cheap, except when “cheap” is the point.
“The centerpiece of the film, the apex of its low-key, low-budget dazzle, is a bank heist seen entirely from the back seat of a stolen Cadillac [and shot in one long take]. The dialogue between Bart and Annie as they roll into town is improvised — they didn’t even know where they would park — and Lewis himself claims that bystanders were convinced that a bank had just been robbed.
“Lewis’s Hollywood contemporaries watched the movie over and over again, trying to figure out how he synchronized so much rear projection footage — but the whole sequence is absolutely real, shot on the cheap and by the seat of the pants. There were directors who shot heists with more style, who dollied cameras through city streets with more complicated grace, but nobody had ever made robbery look like such a cheap, gritty thrill or so completely accompliced the viewers.”
I didn’t know until last night that the screenplay was actually by “blacklisted” Donald Trumbo and fronted by MacKinlay Kantor. (Don’t feel too sorry for Trumbo and the other Hollywood 10 — they all got and cashed their checks just like always.)
If you know John Dall first as the cocky “top” of gay couple in Rope, (made two years earlier, it’s another film famous for long takes) it might add a certain accidental subtext to his part. In Gun Crazy, he manages to look over 10 years older.
You’ll wonder why Peggy Cummins never became a star, but I get the feeling she didn’t want to.
And yeah, Gun Crazy was a major influence on Bonnie & Clyde (1967) — you just have to look at Annie’s black beret.