Gun Crazy / Deadly is the Female
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Gun Crazy (1949) dir. Joseph H. Lewis

Gun Crazy was originally titled Deadly is the Female. Both delicious titles point away from Bart's responsibility and towards the noir tradition of an inescapable fate.

Bart's obsession with guns isn't any indication of a dark or murderous character. According to character witnesses at his trial for stealing a gun, Bart "wouldn't hurt a fly." It's just his ill luck to have a dangerous hobby.

"It was as if the gun was simply something he had to have, just as other boys have to have jackknifes, or harmonicas, or baseball bats."

Guns are the most recognized phallic symbol, and gunplay as sex is doubly so during Hays Code Hollywood. His mania for guns are ingrained in him just as the mania for sex with all boys that age. It doesn't change much as he grows up. The sharpshooting Miss Laurie Star lures him in. His genuine, Frank Capra gosh-darn niceness can't save him from himself. He is warned.

"It's just that some guys are born smart about women and some guys are born dumb. You were born dumb."

Ah, but what is Bart to do? Laurie and Bart were made for each other, "like guns and ammunition." They go on a Bonnie & Clyde inspiring bank robbing spree. Bart does his best to suppress Laurie's blood lust. Watch her face when she gets off a shot.

From beginning to end, John Dall plays Bart with the polite, dull tone of a nice neighbor from a 1940's family comedy. He's not bad, he's just born that way.

Gun Crazy is #443 on the Top 1000 Movies list I'm blogging through.  So far, I’ve seen 389.