89. “Gun Crazy”, Joseph H. Lewis (1950)

Part of the 100 Best Movies I’ve Ever Seen List.

Gun Crazy

Gun Crazy

dir. Joseph H. Lewis scr. Dalton Trumbo and MacKinlay Kantor based on Gun Crazy by MacKinlay Kantor cin. Russell Harlan with Peggy Cummins and John Dall

In 100 words: A B-movie with all the ingenuity and daring that contemporary A-movies lacked, Gun Crazy clearly influenced the French and American New Wave directors. The film’s centerpiece heist is indeed a technical marvel, but the shadowy compositions and editing throughout are just as intricate and meticulous. It tells a riveting story with modernist complexity and psychology: Dall’s character is obsessed with guns but hates violence, while Cummins’ gets a sexual thrill out of committing crimes. These two passionate lovers and Lewis’s confident direction electrified each moment with erotic charge and heightened the danger, providing a template for future filmmakers to emulate.

Other Movies for Context: I don’t want to give it away just yet, but the film that most resembles this one will show up on this list at a higher ranking. Gun Crazy meanwhile impacted Truffaut and Godard to be as daring as possible on form and storytelling, so I would just watch those directors’ films to see how this movie influenced them.

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