The definitive Joseph H. Lewis-directed melodrama, Gun Crazy is the Bonnie and Clyde story retooled for the disillusioned postwar generation. John Dall plays a timorous, emotionally disturbed World War II veteran who has had a lifelong fixation with guns.
He meets a kindred spirit in carnival sharpshooter Peggy Cummins, who is equally disturbed -- but a lot smarter, and hence a lot more dangerous. Beyond their physical attraction to one another, both Dall and Cummins are obsessed with firearms. They embark on a crime spree, with Cummins as the brains and Dall as the trigger man.
As sociopathic a duo as are likely to be found in a 1940s film, Dall and Cummins are also perversely fascinating. As they dance their last dance before dying in a hail of police bullets, the audience is half hoping that somehow they'll escape the Inevitable.
Some critics have complained that Dall is far too effeminate and Cummins too butch, but Joseph H. Lewis was never known to draw anything in less than broad strokes: recall the climax of Terror in a Texas Town, wherein Sterling Hayden participates in a western showdown armed with a whaler's harpoon.
The best and most talked-about scene in Gun Crazy is the bank robbery sequence, shot in real time from the back seat of Dall and Cummins' getaway car. Originally slated for Monogram release, Gun Crazy enjoyed a wider exposure when its producers, the enterprising King Brothers, chose United Artists as the distributor.
The film was based on a magazine article by MacKinlay Kantor; one of the scenarists was uncredited blacklistee Dalton Trumbo.