Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Gun Crazy (1949/50)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Gun Crazy (1949/50) (aka Deadly is the Female)

In director Joseph H. Lewis' super-charged, quintessential, low-budget cult favorite - a noirish, tabloid romantic love-on-the-run tale, based on MacKinlay Kantor's story, pre amour fou Bonnie and Clyde. It was a crime-spree tale about two sharpshooters (including a dominant femme fatale) who had turned to a life of crime - a reckless couple fatally attracted to their firearms - and exhibiting erotic love and an obsession for guns and each other. It was one of the best B-movie melodramas ever made:

  • in the opening scene (in the pouring rain) set in Cashville, 14 year-old Bart Tare (Rusty Tamblyn as teenager) broke a hardware store display window to steal a pearl-handled gun and ammunition from inside, and then he tripped and fell down in a mud puddle at the feet of the local Sheriff Boston (Trevor Bardette); in his troubled life, Bart was being raised by his older sister Ruby (Anabel Shaw). She claimed that although Bart was "gun-crazy," he had a strong aversion to killing things ("He wouldn't kill anything"); Bart was sent to reform school for four years because of his "dangerous mania" and then served in the Army, remaining gun-fixated
14 Year-Old Bart's Theft of Gun From Shop Window
  • after serving in the military, with his two boyhood pals, Deputy Clyde Boston (Harry Lewis) and newspaper reporter Dave (Nedrick Young), broad-smiling, gun-loving Bart (John Dall as adult) attended Packett's Carnival, passing by fire-eaters and belly dancers in the busy sideshows. They encountered "a great star act," featuring blonde, English trick sharpshooter and femme fatale Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins) - headlined by the seedy carnival owner/manager Packett (Barry Kroeger) (Annie's lover) in a Wild West Carnival side-show
  • Annie was advertised as a hyped-up entertainer with a flamboyant past - she was introduced to the audience as an English 'Annie Oakley': "The famous, the dangerous, the beautiful Miss Annie Laurie Starr, direct from London, England and the capitals of the Continent. Furthermore, whose remarkable marksmanship the greatest pistol and rifle shots in America have gone down in defeat. So here she is ladies and gentleman, so appealing, so dangerous, so lovely to look at. The darling of London, England. Miss Annie Laurie Starr!"
  • the entertaining star trick markswoman [a typical femme fatale seductress in film noir], filmed from below to make her appear more imposing, appeared on stage dressed as a Western cowgirl (with cowboy hat and shirt, gun holster, and hip-hugging black pants) and fired into the air with her smoking guns blazing in both hands
  • Bart leaned forward intently for a closer look at his dream-girl/soul-mate come true, captivated and fixated on her domineering, gun-toting abilities that made her as good as any man. She lowered one of her guns and fired directly at her admiring, glazed-eyed customer, almost picking him out of the crowd. He reacted by flinching slightly - bewitchingly, she flashed a radiant, smiling grin back at him, revealing to everyone that she was using blanks in the potentially-potent gun. The audience applauded wildly for her attention-getting poses and presence
  • Bart was even more stimulated when she further demonstrated her dangerous feline talent and prowess by bending over and firing between her legs. When gun-fixated Bart volunteered for the audience challenge to win $500, a William Tell-like contest/duel, markswoman Laurie circled around behind him like a wild animal, sizing him up and eyeing him from head to toe - he glanced back at her - reciprocating the combative yet attractive gazes like dogs in heat. Each one shot at matches stuck in a crown worn on the other's head
Sizing Each Other Up Before a Gun-Shooting Duel Between Bart and Annie
  • after outshooting her and winning the contest, Bart was easily recruited and hired by the overly-possessive Packett for the gun act as her erotic partner - and they were perfect companions, although it didn't last long. Friction developed when he learned that Packett was blackmailing her about a murder she had committed during a robbery in St. Louis with him, and when Bart began to romantically steal Laurie away
  • they were both fired from the carnival, and immediately, the two amoral lovers sought out a justice of the peace to get married. Annie Laurie thought about how it might improve her life: "Bart, I've never been much good, at least up to now I haven't. You aren't getting any bargain....But I've got a funny feeling that I want to be good. I don't know, maybe I can't. But I'm gonna try...I'll try hard, Bart...I'll try."
  • they celebrated an idyllic honeymoon period, but soon found themselves in an impoverished and downturned state after a visit to Las Vegas. In their drab, cheap hotel room, during a domestic squabble brewing between the couple, Annie Laurie emerged from the bathroom behind him, wearing a white, terry-clothed robe (and naked underneath). She was complaining and dis-satisfied with her unexciting life. As he cleaned his gun barrel by thrusting (phallically) a brush within it, she pulled on her nylons and rejected his proposal of a traditional forty-dollars a week job at Remington - her intention was to strike it rich fast: ("I want to do a little living.....not 40 bucks a week...If I don't get it one way, I'll get it the other"); when he suggested pawning his guns to "make another start," she countered with an appeal to his flagging masculinity, telling him: "There isn't enough money in those guns for the kind of start I want. Bart, I want things, a lot of things, big things. I don't want to be afraid of life or anything else. I want a guy with spirit and guts. A guy who can laugh at anything, who will do anything, a guy who can kick over the traces and win the world for me"
  • if he couldn't deliver, she suggested: "You better kiss me goodbye, Bart," (she dropped onto the bed and reclined back), because I won't be here when you get back. Come on, Bart, let's finish it the way we started it, on the level"; she threatened to walk out on Bart unless they both engaged in a life of crime; agonizing over what to do (his dangling hand clenching, and opening and closing at his side), he finally succumbed to her wily, fearless, and ruthless ultimatum - goaded to illicitly pursue happiness and acquire "things"
Blackmailing, Seductive Femme Fatale
  • the blackmail scene ended with his sexual acquiescence and gratification, his decision to remain, and a close-up of his mouth inching towards hers for a passionate kiss, as the image blurred and blackened
  • the kiss dissolved into the gunshot blast of a gumball bowl during a holdup at a Travelers Aid hotel desk - an orgasmic, erotic/violent beginning of their crime rampage as gun-toting 'wild animals'; she was able to get him to agree to more holdups - portrayed as a series of small stick-ups and robberies - a liquor store, another store clerk, and a gas station; Annie Laurie pretended to be a hitchhiker to hold up a kindly driver who picked her up - they then stole his car for their next major heist
  • the next sequence was an unedited, virtuoso, single-shot uninterrupted (long take) robbery that occurred at a Hampton Bank (Illinois) - the two bank robbers were dressed in their Western showbiz cowboy-cowgirl outfits with guns; it was cleverly filmed from the back-seat of their robbery car (a stolen Cadillac); the scene extended from the time of their drive into town and up to the bank, including getaway driver Laurie's distraction of a cop (Robert Osterloh) on the sidewalk during the robbery; when Bart emerged with an alarm bell ringing, Laurie karate-chopped the policeman in the neck to knock him down and render him unconscious, and the two escaped with Bart driving - while the camera was still filming the long-take from behind their shoulders inside the car! Afterwards, she was excitedly in love with her bank-robbing partner: "I love you more than anything else in the world."
Uninterrupted Take During Hampton Bank Robbery
  • their next robbery's getaway was at the Rangers and Growers Exchange; as they were pursued by a siren-screaming police car giving chase, Laurie insisted that Bart (in the back seat) shoot back: "Shoot. Why don't you shoot? Shoot! Shoot, do you hear me?" - unable to kill, he lied to her about eliminating their pursuer (he only shot out one of the car's tires), although a grin slowly widened across her mouth
  • the two killers were identified by vengeful carnival owner Packett who reported that Annie Laurie and Bart were his former employees; a full-scale manhunt across state lines was undertaken by the authorities; Bart was beginning to feel regret for his criminal lifestyle with the cold-hearted killer Annie Laurie: "It's just that everything's going so fast. It's all in such high gear that sometimes it doesn't feel like me"; he thought he was living a nightmare, and asked to end their rampage: "Laurie, I'm not a killer. I don't want to be a killer. I don't like this kind of life. I've had enough"

Search for the Killers, Identified by Packett

Annie Laurie: "One more job!"
  • he was compelled to agree with her request for "one more job"; according to her calculated plan, they could be rich for life and leave the country, but would first have to split for awhile so they wouldn't be recognized and caught - she promised: "Bart, we'll grow old together."
  • for one last carefully-planned payroll office heist at the Armour Meat Company Plant in Albuquerque, NM where they both had taken jobs (with fake names), the robbery turned deadly when Annie Laurie was forced to shoot and kill her supervisor, office manager Miss Augustine Sifert (Anne O'Neal) when she activated a burglar alarm, and a company security guard during their flight; although their plan was to escape in separate cars, they were so exhilarated by their success that they decided to remain together; due to an intensive manhunt and dragnet and even involvement by the FBI, they were forced to flee to Southern California
  • during their escape, Bart read in the newspapers that two people were killed during the Armour payroll heist, and was astounded by the news: "Why? Why did you do it? Why do you have to murder people? Why can't you let them live?" She responded: "Because I had to. Because I was afraid. Because they would've killed you. Because you're the only thing I've got in the whole world. Because I love you." Even though she proposed leaving him, Bart thought that was unlikely: "We go together, Laurie. I don't know why. Maybe like guns and ammunition go together"; the hunt for them tightened when their spending of twenty dollar bills in the area was traced back to the Armour plant
  • returning to Bart's rural hometown in a freight car, the two were discovered in Ruby's house the next day and forced to flee again by car into the San Lorenzo Mountains and Madera National Park; after their car crashed and malfunctioned, they fled on foot into a marshy and foggy swamp and then into a mountainous area with bloodhounds on their trail. In the moonlight, they came to the edge of a marshy swamp, with towering reeds and chirping crickets. Finding themselves at an impasse, they slowly turned their heads back towards their invisible trackers. After crossing another shallow pond, they collapsed into each other's arms on the ground to rest and await dawn
  • by morning, a thick, hellish, shroud of fog blanketed the area and trapped them in the swamp - anticipating the final showdown. With the camera firmly positioned on their apprehensive faces and trying to define their shapes through the mist, they heard - through the smoky clouds - ominous footsteps and the voices of Bart's boyhood pals Deputy Clyde (Harry Lewis) and Dave (Nedrick Young) announcing their approach
Dying Together in the Swamp
  • in their last few moments of life and knowing that they were surrounded, Bart faithfully declared his love for Annie Laurie and gave her one final kiss; as the two came closer and Annie Laurie saw their figures in the fog, she vowed with an insane homicidal look on her face: "One more step and I'll kill you. I'll kill you. I'll kill you!"; Bart was compelled to turn on Annie Laurie and shoot his insane, aggressive lover as a mercy killing - the only murder he committed in the entire film, in an act that adopted her own violent modus operandi; by killing her partly out of love, he silenced her lethal ability to kill any further, and protected the lives of his friends
  • mistakenly believing that Bart had fired on them, a barrage of police gunfire abruptly cut Bart down; with poetic justice, he fell next to her; their bodies lay united together - with Bart on his back and Annie Laurie on her side
  • the film's sad theme song mournfully played one last time, as the two representatives of the law looked down at their fallen bodies in the heavenly shroud, and the camera pulled back and then up above their soggy, yet romantic grave; the final words of film dialogue were: Unidentified policeman: "You alright, Sheriff?" Clyde: "Yeah, yeah, we're alright"

Sharpshooter Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins)

Bart Mesmerized by Annie

After Being Fired From the Carnival, On Their Way to the Justice of the Peace to Get Married

After the Honeymoon, A Bad Streak

Blasted Gumball Globe at Travelers Aid Hotel Desk

Robbery Spree

Vow of Love for Bart After Hampton Bank Robbery

Rangers & Growers Robbery

During the Getaway - Bart's Reluctance to Shoot

A Smile on Annie Laurie's Face

Murder During Armour Payroll Office Heist

Escape In Open Convertible From Armour Plant

Exhilarated by Heist, They Decided to Remain Together

Headlines: Manhunt for Killers


Desperately Clinging to Each Other

Lying Together - Dead


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