Gun Crazy is the very essence of film noir, a low-budget, high-octane thriller whose reputation has grown with every passing year since its first appearance in 1950. While its story of two doomed lovers, crashing through the small towns of the mid-West, running the gauntlet of hold-ups and shoot-outs to a bloody nemesis, owes much to the true-life tale of Bonnie and Clyde, the film achieves an intense poetry eloquently expressive of the dark side of the American Dream. The film's origins in the poverty-row operation of the King Brothers are expertly described by Jim Kitses. He traces Gun Crazy's roots in the rain-slicked, nighttime world of noir, and in the post-war American society that gave birth to it. He teases out the effects of the Production Code, and the distinctive contributions of director Joseph H. Lewis, writers MacKinlay Kantor and the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, and stars, Peggy Cummins and John Dall. Above all, Kitses provides a wonderfully alert and informative reading of a small masterpiece, a film that rises triumphantly above the modesty of its means.
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