While 1940s cinema was packed with devious dames, few can match Peggy Cummins’s hellcat sharpshooter Laurie Starr for sheer manipulative allure. Meeting Laurie at a small-town carny, clean-cut gun nut Bart (a perplexed John Dall) is transfixed by her charms and prowess with a pistol. The two cut a swathe through the Southern states, holding up banks and evading a tightening police dragnet.
Gun Crazy is a magnificently enjoyable film, distinguished by Joseph H Lewis’s restless, catch-all directorial style; visually, the film ranges from classic gritty noir to hyperstylised modern gothic, to a startling single-take hold-up sequence shot on crowded streets. The filmmakers never miss a chance for a sly Freudian aside: from Bart’s little problem with guns (he can point, but he can’t shoot) to Laurie’s zealous lust for control, Gun Crazy is awash with hysterical symbolism. A genuine treat.