Tuesday, February 20, 2007

GUN CRAZY (RKO 1950) Warner Home Video

Sigmund Freud would have a field day with Bart Tare (John Dall), the obsessive marksman in Joseph Lewis’ Gun Crazy (1950). Seems Bart figures the bigger the gun the more the man. A bit of a gawky youth, Bart becomes smitten with circus performer and femme fatale extraordinaire - Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins) a woman for whom the moniker – girls gone wild – must have been invented.

Basically, Laurie’s pure poison - a sugar-coated heartless killer consumed by her own obsession to be rich without working for it. After Bart proves himself at a shooting gallery, Laurie’s excitement and interest in Bart turns to mad lust.

Naturally, the chemistry between these two ne’er-do-wells is immediate and deadly; Laurie’s need to live the high life fuels a rabid passion for a life of crime. Before long, the two are the Bonnie and Clyde of their day – robbing banks, beating up guards and generally terrorizing every small town in the Midwest.

This is one of those pseudo-cautionary tales that attempts to chart what happens to individuals for whom life does not follow the straight and narrow. Gun Crazy is a superb must-see, raw and uninhibited B-flick. It sparkles with sordid raunchiness that, quite frankly, is refreshing in light of the usual antiseptic clichéd villains one has come to expect from the golden age of Hollywood.

Peggy Cummins and John Dall smolder and sizzle in unexpected ways. They're hardly beautiful people on the inside or out, yet there's something genuinely tantalizing about their inability to keep their hands off one another. You can't bottle on screen chemistry half as potent as this and it begs the curious question why these two actors never again appeared in another film together. Oh well, at least we have this one and its oh so nourishing from beginning to end.

Warner Home Video’s DVD is quite marvelous. A refined B&W element exhibits fine details, solid blacks and very clean whites. This is the way one wishes all movies could be remastered. Age related artifacts are kept to a bare minimum. Film grain is practically non-existent. Digital artifacts are present but do not distract. The audio is mono but nicely balanced. There’s a fairly interesting audio commentary from Glenn Erickson that enhances appreciation for this film. All in all, a good disc to add to your library of classic cinema.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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