Joseph H Lewis’s 1949 noir classic Gun Crazy is a small but perfectly formed black-and-white masterpiece of flash and trash, unwholesome obsession and criminal daring. The masters of the nouvelle vague adored it, not least for the bold and brilliant camerawork: there’s a tremendous continuous take of a bank job, filmed from one camera position in the coups from Touch of Evil and I Am Cuba.
John Dall plays Bart, a guy with a deep and abiding love of guns, but a paradoxical detestation of violence. Peggy Cummins is Annie Laurie Starr, a carnival cowgirl with a burning need for more money than can be obtained through strictly legal means. Psyched up and tooled up, Bart and Annie join forces for a Bonnie-and-Clyde robbery spree across the country, and their episodic adventures are dramatised with flair.
Guns are the most unexamined part of cinema’s idiom. Here is a rare film that turns the spotlight on guns themselves. The result is worryingly addictive.