February 14, 2011

Film Preservation Blogathon - GUN CRAZY: A Noir Valentine

Gun Crazy
Originally uploaded by DALAIWMN
(After the fun I had last year, I am again participating in the Film Preservation Blogathon,. This year's blogathon benefits the Film Noir Foundation. Enjoy!)
I love film noir. There's something about that straight-ahead directing style, combined with black and white photography, that just hits me right in the gut emotionally. I love a well-crafted tale of wise guys, bad girls, and moral ambiguity. I also love noir because, quite often, its subject matter strains against the constrains of what film makers could do, the tension leading to some really strong acting and creative filmmaking.

Gun Crazy - the story of a man and woman who meet and get involved over a shared love of firearms - is a really strong, very enjoyable film. Think of it as a "noir Valentine" - a love story that involves major weaponry.

Bart Tate (John Dall) is a young man who loves guns...and we see early on that his love of guns will get him in trouble. (Although, it is pointed out, he has never killed anything or anyone...and the thought leaves him uncomfortable). However, after returning from the military, he attends a carnival featuring a very attractive sharpshooter named Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins). Like many leading women in noir, Ms. Starr has a very strong femme fatale bent to her character, and soon, the two become intertwined both romantically and professionally, as they embark on a life of crime.

One of the great things about Gun Crazy is how the script, co-written by Dalton Trumbo (who operated under a pseudonym due to the Hollywood blacklist) and the direction (by Joseph H. Lewis), work together to create a very strong viewing experience. At a time when very little sexual innuendo was allowed, this movie simply reeks of sexual tension between the two leads. It moves at a propulsive, straightforward pace (with a cool tracking shot during a robbery that makes me wonder if Orson Welles took notes while viewing), and the acting is rock solid.

In short, this is one of the better noir films available - it may be a little hard to find, but worth it.

And the print on this particular DVD is excellent - it's a great example of why films need to be restored, and the importance of making improvements in a very critical art form. So much so that, this Valentine's Day, rather than invest in a card or a box of chocolates, show your love of movies, click on the image below, and donate.

Trust me, is the best way to show your love for noir.

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