Gun Crazy starts with young Bart Tare (Russ Tamlin) sneaking through a dark rainy night to smash a pawn shop window and steal a hand gun, whereupon he is caught by the sheriff and taken to court. The judge asks for character witnesses to speak out during which time Barts young friends speak out about the inability of Bart to shoot a Mountain Lion even though he is a crack shot. Barts sister Ruby (Anabel Shaw) speaks up to tell the judge that she is planning to get married and wants to keep Bart close to raise with a family. But the judge sends Bart to reform school. When we move forward in time we view Barts return. He has served his time in reform school and a stint in the army when he comes back to see sister Ruby who is run off her feet taking care of her house full of children. Bart and his buddies Clyde (Harry Lewis) and Dave (Ned Young) attend a Carnival to see the shooting performance by Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins) and Bart is immediately attracted to her because of her beauty and the fact that she is a crack shot. When Bart competes against Laurie in a shooting match and wins he decides to take a job with the Carnival mainly to be with Laurie, but Carnival Manager and Lauries former lover Packett (Berry Kroeger) fires them both when Bart steals Lauries love. Bart and Laurie get married and quickly discover that without jobs or legal tender they cant survive. Laurie talks Bart into robbing gas stations and the two quickly move up to banks with Bart suffering angst for every job, and Laurie cold-bloodedly urging him on. The two decide to separate after one more big job but when the time comes, they stay together and decide to flee to Mexico to start a new life. When the Police discover their location and close in, Bart and Laurie hop a train and go back to Rubys house to hide out but are discovered by Barts childhood friends Clyde and Dave. Bart and Laurie run again to a marsh with the Police closing in and must decide their fate with guns primed to cut them down. —IMDb
American low-budget filmmaker Joseph H. Lewis began his long screen career editing such Republic serials as The Miracle Rider (1935) and The Undersea Kingdom (1936). Lewis was elevated to director with Courage of the West, a 1937 Universal oater that also marked the debut of crooner Bob Baker. As a director, Lewis would remain in the Western field well into the television era, earning the nickname of “Wagon Wheel Joe” because of a penchant for framing shots through the spokes of a wagon wheel. The moniker was bestowed upon him by fellow B-Western expert Oliver Drake, but unlike Drake, Lewis’ oeuvre managed to stand out in a crowded field, mainly due to careful lighting and other atmospheric touches not often considered sine qua non in low-budget filmmaking. Turning increasingly to thrillers, Lewis later directed Bela Lugosi in one of the veteran screen ghoul’s better later vehicles, Monogram’s The Invisible Ghost (1941), and even more importantly… read more
Thinking about this film and remembering the daring single take drive-through robbery. They go together like guns and ammunition.
Cinematically at least, before Bonnie and Clyde there was Bart and Laurie.. This couple-on-the-run story has great energy, much of it springing from the electrifying sexual chemistry between Dall and Cummins. They turn to crime after their finances dry up and thrive on this lifestyle before the law inevitably catches up with them. Working on a tight budget, B-movie specialist Lewis directs with imagination and skill.
Lewis was an exceptional visual talent with admittedly, some faults in the storytelling department. Here, he gets away with it by using the trusty couple-on-the-run framework as an excuse to create a series of stunning sequences and to indulge a fascinating take on gender roles and violence in which a handsome man with a gun may in fact be the ultimate impotent.
A master detective falls in love and is then charged with locating his lover in this noir by Joseph H. Lewis showing in New York Saturday.