Saturday, October 2, 2010

IMDb title comfusion

TCM is showing the really fun movie Gun Crazy tonight at midnight ET, as part of a night of "lovers on the run".

John Dall plays Bart Tare, a man with a fascination with guns, but before we get to Dall, we have to see how Bart got his fascination. It turns out that Bart had a bit of a chaotic childhood being raised by his sister, spending his time with his friends camping and hunting, with Bart becoming an excellent marksman. Fast forward to Bart as a teenager, when, so interested in a gun behind a shop window, he decides to break the window to steal the gun. This promptly gets him sent to reform school. Fast forward several years. Grown-up Bart returns to town as a war hero, a man with old friends happy to see him. Together, the old crew goes out to the traveling carnival, where they meet the marksman act Annie Starr (played by Peggy Cummins) -- nice play on the names Annie Oakley and Belle Starr. Part of the act's schtick is to challenge the audience to a marksmanship contest. Only this time, she's got her match, as Bart's friends, knowing what a good shot he is, cajole him into challenging Annie. And, he wins.

This gets Bart a job in the carnival, but it doesn't quite work out for the best. Bart and Annie fall in love, which the boss doesn't like, so he fires the two of them. They get married, but Bart finds out that Annie wants a better life than he can provide for her. At least, better than he can honestly provide for her. And so, the pair wind up robbing banks, because that's where the money is. This being made during the Production Code era, you know that it's not going to work out well for them, of course, but how it gets there is the interesting part.

The two things that are interesting here are the fact that it's Annie who's really driving the violence here, and not Bart, who if anything doesn't want to see guns used for killing at all. Secondly is the camera work. One of the more imaginative scenes is of a bank robbery, which starts with Bart and Annie in the car, and a camera mounted in the rear window viewing them from behind. Bart parks the car, goes into the bank, and robs it, all while the rear-window camera is still rolling, filming the scene from its vantage point. After Bart comes out of the bank, the two go on their merry way, with the camera still behind them, making one long scene without a cut. Actually, there's a third interesting thing too. The actor who plays Bart as a teenager, when he gets sent to reform school, is billed as "Rusty Tamblyn"; he would grow up to take the more adult-sounding name Russ. Gun Crazy is surprisingly good, very entertaining, and well worth seeing. It's even available on DVD.

As for the title, at some point along the way (I think in Cummins' native UK), the movie got re-released with the title Deadly Is the Female. The last time I did an IMDb search on Gun Crazy, this movie didn't show up at all. However, when I found the movie under the title Deadly Is the Female and clicked on John Dall's IMDb page, his "upcoming films on TV" list included... Gun Crazy under that title.

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