Sunday, 1 March 2009

Gun Crazy (1950)

As I watched "Gun Crazy" this afternoon at the BFI, inside my head I kept repeating "the female of the species is deadlier than the male". Peggy Cummins performance of a Bonnie-type character (as in Bonnie and Clyde) is one of the deadliest by an actress in any film noir, or any film for that matter. I think she's up there with Bette Davis (The Letter), Barbara Stanwyck (Double Indemnity) and Kathleen Turner (Body Heat). At moments, she's probably better than all three. She's sexy, manipulative, ruthless, scary, scared. But she's also in love with John Dall's character - or at least, charged with lust and desire - although she twists him at will.

For those who think that classic Hollywood only produced MGM-esque type of films, this, like "White Heat" are pretty good counter examples. The pace is incredibly fast, the script is tight, and although at moments you can see that the budget was not very large, they don't come often. As the 1940s ended, both films look back and project all things to come. The programme notes, mentioned this as one of the inspirations behind 1968's "Bonnie and Clyde". As I haven't seen that I can't comment, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised. It is really increadbly powerful. The only flaw I could find was Victor Young's music, which was too Max Steiner and inappropriate. At times it really reminded me of Max's score for "Now, Voyager".

If you're in London, go down to the BFI and take a look. It'll be on until mid-March as one of their extended runs.

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