Sometimes it is an absolute bitch knowing that a film has been produced under the Hay’s code. The fact that anyone who engages in an illegal must have some sort of comeuppance means that as you see things go south in Gun Crazy you know there is only one of two things that can happen; they get thrown in jail or they get killed. There’s no point crying “spoiler” at this, it’s one of those stupid things about watching American films from this era… as well as watching a film treatment of the Bonnie and Clyde story.
I’m getting ahead of myself here somewhat. Gun Crazy tells the story of Bart Tare, a man who has been obsessed with guns ever since he was a tween. Obsessed with guns, but truly adverse to killing anyone with them, at least not after that innocent baby chick he shot with a BB gun as a young boy. Honestly, the scene when he killed the chick actually upset me, not as much as the tortoise in Farewell My Concubine since I am sure they just had a dead chick on hand and didn’t kill one for the film. However, it is one of the most important scenes in the film since it provides the touchstone for why he would never kill anyone and deplores people being murdered with guns.
The whole film is completely anchored by the chemistry between the two leads. The premise relies on the fact that these two people are not only obsessed with guns but also each other and, to give credit to Peggy Cummins and John Dall, you believe that they might rip each others clothes off at the drop of a hat.
The story of Bonnie and Clyde is well know so I won’t dwell on that. What I will point out is a scene that blew my mind when I found out how it was done. To set the scene, the couple ran out of funds and are robbing shops and banks, here we see them driving up to a bank to rob it whereby he goes in, she distracts and knocks out a policeman and then they get away. Doesn’t sound special? Well you need to see it to be honest, but it was all done in one shot with improvised dialogue, a car rigged with a camera and a saddle for the cameraman and a bystander who thought it was so real that they screamed for help. Talk about realism.