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15 Apr 2009

Film Noir a Day Fortnight - Gun Crazy

Trigger happy mayhem with 'Gun Crazy' (1949) also known as 'Deadly is the Female'. This is another hysterical, violent and shocking Joseph H Lewis film (see ' The Big Combo') filled with barely tempered nihilism, (implied) sex and violence. Gun fanatics, Bart and Annie blow their stash in Vegas and they try to recoup their loses with bank jobs and that noirly inevitable staple: the payroll heist. As the body count piles up they hit the road, Bonnie and Clyde style. The script was based on a short story and original, lengthy script by MacKinlay Kantor. It was re-written for the screen by the recently blacklisted writer, Dalton Trumbo but credited to Millard Kaufman, a fellow writer who allowed Trumbo to use his name. The film was produced by the King Brothers who had made their money bootlegging liquor during prohibition and investing in the fruit machine business. They made their breakthrough in the film business with 1945's B-movie success, 'Dillinger'.

The film features Welsh actress Peggy Cummins as an admirably possessed and dislikable Annie, with Rope's John Dall turning in a performance that is, by turns, soppy, hammy  and a little bit spooky. It all ends up a swamp hunt that shares the same ending as Bogart's 1941 'High Sierra' and 1955 colour noir, 'I died a thousand times'. It features an innovative one shot bank heist sequence which involved hidden mircophones and boom operators laying on the roof rack. After a dummy run, this shot was completed in one take.

Bart: "We go together, Annie. I don't know why. Maybe like guns and ammunition go together". 

Annie: "Bart, I've been kicked around all my life, and from now on, I'm gonna start kicking back". 

imdb link

Reference: 'Film Noir' by Eddie Robson. Virgin Film books. 2005

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