Gun Crazy (1950)

Film Review


Release Date: 20 January, 1950

Studio: United Artists

Director: Joseph H. Lewis

Starring: Peggy Cummins, John Dall

Special Notes: TCM Classic Film Festival, 2012

Gun Crazy was featured in the Noir Style theme at the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival. Guest speakers were film noir expert Eddie Muller and actress Peggy Cummins.


Gun obsessed marksman Barton Tare falls in love with carnival markswoman Annie Laurie Starr. After their marriage, the couple carry out a series of robberies to provide Annie Laurie with the luxuries she craves. Laurie does not share Bart's unwillingness to shoot anyone who interferes. Discovered by the police, they flee to Bart's hometown and hide out with his sister and her family. Discovered once again, they are tracked through hills Bart knows from childhood. Confronted by his childhood buddies, Bart finally shoots to kill.


Guest Eddie Muller called Gun Crazy the precursor of Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1960) and Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967). He identified the actor and performance that defines noir as Richard Widmark in Night and the City (1950), and the signature noir performance by a woman as Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy.

Peggy Cummins, returning to the United States for the first time since leaving for England in 1950, discussed the film and her time in Hollywood. She was brought to Hollywood by producer Darryl F. Zanuck in 1945 to play the sexually charged title role in Forever Amber (1947). However, it was decided that she was too young and not sexy enough, so the part went to Linda Darnell. While in Hollywood she met major personalities including Tyrone Power, Ernst Lubitsch, and Howard Hughes, who asked her out for dinner. She declined the latter's invitation.

Gun Crazy was Cummins' final Hollywood feature, after which she returned to Great Britain. Cummins stated that she was lucky to be cast as Annie Laurie Starr. It was a meaty part, and she loved the script. She also felt that her co-star, John Dall, was a great actor who helped her to give a good performance. Cummins stated that everyone involved with Gun Crazy did their best, and that they thought the film would be okay, but they did not have the expectation that it would become an influential film or that she would be appearing at a festival showing sixty years later!