Favorite things about… Gun Crazy (1950)

(Image via scorpio.tv)

(Image via scorpio.tv)

The favorite film:
Gun Crazy, a 1950 film noir directed by Joseph H. Lewis

The synopsis:
Bart Tare meets the woman of his dreams, Annie, at a carnival when they engage in a sharp-shooting competition. Bart has always loved guns, and he’s happy to find a woman who loves them as much as he does. The two quickly fall in love and marry, but Annie doesn’t want to be poor… so the two go on a crime spree, hoping to make enough dough so that they’ll never have to work again.

The cast:

  • John Dall as Bart Tare
  • Peggy Cummins as Annie Laurie Starr
  • Anabel Shaw as Ruby Tare Flagler
  • Morris Carnovsky as Judge Willoughby
  • Berry Kroeger as Packett
  • Harry Lewis as Deputy Clyde Boston
  • Mickey Little & Russ Tamblyn as Bart at age 7 and 14

Fun facts:

  • Based on the story “Gun Crazy” by MacKinlay Kantor, originally published in The Saturday Evening Post
  • Produced by King Brothers Productions and distributed by United Artists
  • The film was shot in about a month and a half, during May and June of 1949. It was first released on January 20, 1950.
  • Though the film was written by Dalton Trumbo, Millard Kaufman was given credit for the screenplay because Trumbo was blacklisted. Kaufman later asked the WGA to remove his writing credit and give Trumbo official credit. Kaufman claimed that he had never even seen the film, and that he took credit as a favor to his agent, who also represented Trumbo.
  • According to TCMDb, only the actors, film crew and people inside the bank knew that the heist scene was being filmed. It was shot in one take. Someone can be heard screaming about the bank being robbed as Annie and Bart drive away — the voice of a bystander who didn’t realize it was all for a movie!
  • Annie and Bart are loosely based on Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
  • Though Gun Crazy is the original title, the film was for a short period known as Deadly is the Female. It was reviewed under this title by movie mags before the name was changed back.
  • According to a 1949 Hollywood Reporter news blurb, Veronica Lake was originally considered for the role of Annie.
  • The 1992 Drew Barrymore film Guncrazy is inspired by, but not directly based on the 1950 film.
  • Some of the film’s dialogue was improvised by Dall and Cummins.
(Image via filmforager.com)

(Image via filmforager.com)

Favorite things/quotes:

  • The music that plays as the dark and stormy opening credits roll
  • This kid can successfully steal a gun but he can’t successfully walk through a puddle…
  • Ruby (Bart’s sister): “He’s never killed anything since in his whole life, and he never will.”
  • Bart gets sent to reform school, only to continue his weapon obsession. That revolver collection!
  • The Bart vs. Annie circus tent shootin’ showdown
  • Everything about Peggy Cummins’ performance (and her character’s wardrobe)
  • THE DESERT JUSTICE: GET MARRIED
  • Annie: “I’ve got a funny feeling that I want to be good.”
  • I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger, but if his fancy gun collection isn’t worth enough money to give them a good start…
  • BANK ROBBERY! (+ Annie’s sneaky conversation to distract the cop)
  • Annie’s face when she looks back after the bank robbery to see if anyone is following them — she looks certifiably crazy!
  • Bart’s reaction after he shoots out the cop’s tire (and meanwhile, Annie smirks!)
  • NEWSPAPER MONTAGE!
  • Bart: “That’s when I was a fairly honest guy.”
    Annie: “You mean, before you met me?”
  • Their faces have been all over the newspapers, and yet all it takes for Annie to get a job is for her to put on some glasses as a disguise!
  • Alarm that literally sounds like a wailing human being. WAAA-OOH WAAA-OOH WAAA-OOH WAAA-OOH WAAAAAH!
  • ANOTHER NEWSPAPER MONTAGE!
  • Bart: “Why do you have to murder people? Why can’t you let them live?”
  • Rollercoaster! Carousel! Popcorn and balloons! Weighing games! Dancing! What fun!
  • Illegal railroad travel (These shots are so pretty!)
  • Bart’s luck with cars isn’t much better than his luck was with puddles as a young chap.
  • PUPPIES
  • The super-foggy scene where Bart and Annie are hiding in the brush. So perfect, especially the final minute… what a powerful way to end a fantastic film.
(Image via film.list.co.uk)

(Image via film.list.co.uk)

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One thought on “Favorite things about… Gun Crazy (1950)

  1. Yes, what a great, fun film noir…love that single-take shot from the back of the car as they approach the bank. And next time I watch, I’ll have to listen for that panicked woman screaming about a bank robbery!

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