Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
Starring Peggy Cummins, John Dall, Berry Kroeger, Morris Carnovksy
Most people who love movies, especially those who end up making them, can cite a few key films that sealed the deal for them. The ones that nailed their Movie Geekdom firmly in place. Joseph H. Lewis’ Gun Crazy (1949) is one of mine.
There are few movies I can think of where you’re constantly aware of the choices the director is making. With about every scene, every decision, Lewis is pushing movies in a direction that wasn’t on the map till he got there.
Of course, Lewis is aided by a cast that’s willing to go along with him. Peggy Cummins is terrific here — pretty, sexy and completely terrifying by the time it’s all over. Same goes for John Dall. He’s likable for the first reel, then he’s lost in his love for Cummins — and swept up in her love of guns.
Scripted by a blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, fronted by Millard Kaufman, this King Brothers picture was to be distributed by Monogram, but wound up at the bigger United Artists. Obviously, someone realized they were on to something.
Warner Archive is putting this masterpiece out on Blu-Ray at a time when the gun argument in the United States is at its nastiest. Gun Crazy makes a strong case that the trouble starts with the head that drives the hand that pulls the trigger.
Almost 70 years after its release, Gun Crazy is still potent stuff. Absolutely essential.