Before there was Bonnie and Clyde, there was Joseph H. Lewis’s Gun Crazy (alternative title: Deadly Is the Female). This is, hands down, one of the most well-made films that I have ever watched. It utilized plenty of clever camera techniques to add suspense or break the monotony in the film. Lewis took close up shots of his actors to emphasize those times when the worlds of their characters are closing around them, and the way the car chase sequence was filmed was quite a breakthrough at that time (I don’t remember watching any car chase sequence prior the 1950s filmed from a car’s backseat). The foggy swamp finale was slickly filmed too - as the characters search the fog for the shadows of their pursuers, the audience can’t help but to make out even the faintest figure through the thick haze. Peggy Cummins, still alive and kicking up to this day, gave an iconic performance as the markswoman, Annie Starr. Her lust for blood and violence was toned down heavily to appease the board of censors, but her mighty performance made us see beyond that - underneath those pursed lips and charming eyes hid a ruthless killer. John Dall of Rope fame was also effective in his role as a young man who strongly opposed violence, but possessed an undeniable craving for his partner-in-crime.
HIGHLIGHT: Barton (Dall) and Annie (Cummins) meet for the first time in a local fair, and challenges each other to a shooting game. The camera tricks heightened the suspense of the death defying acts played out in the film (such as lighting a crown of matches by firing bullets through them)
RATING: 9 out of 101 note
Posted on Thursday, 8 March
Tagged as: gun crazy deadly is the female joseph h. lewis 1950 film review peggy cummins john dall