AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Gun Crazy
Alternate Title: Deadly Is the Female
Director: Joseph H. Lewis (Dir)
Release Date:   20 Jan 1950
Production Date:   2 May--mid-Jun 1949
Duration (in mins):   85 or 87
Duration (in feet):   7,828
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Cast:   Peggy Cummins (Annie Laurie Starr)  
    John Dall (Bart Tare)  
    Berry Kroeger (Packett)  
    Morris Carnovsky (Judge Willoughby)  
    Anabel Shaw (Ruby Tare)  
    Harry Lewis (Clyde Boston)  
    Nedrick Young (Dave Allister)  
    Rusty Tamblyn (Bart Tare, age 14)  
    Trevor Bardette (Sheriff Boston)  
    Mickey Little (Bart Tare, age 7)  
    Paul Frison (Clyde Boston, age 14)  
    David Bair (Dave Allister, age 14)  
    Stanley Prager (Bluey-Bluey)  
    Virginia Farmer (Miss Wynn)  
    Anne O'Neal (Miss Sifert)  
    Frances Irwin (Danceland singer)  
    Don Beddoe (Man from Chicago)  
    Robert Osterloh (Hampton policeman)  
    Shimen Ruskin (Cab driver)  
    Harry Hayden (Mallenberg)  

Summary: On a rainy night, fourteen-year-old Bart Tare smashes the window of a hardware store and steals a gun, but is soon caught by Sheriff Boston. At Bart's hearing, his older sister Ruby, who reared the boy by herself, assures Judge Willoughby that despite Bart's strange obsession with guns, he would never kill anything. To prove her point, she describes the trauma he experienced when he shot a chick with a BB gun as a small boy. Bart's friends, Dave Allister and Clyde Boston, the sheriff's son, then recall how Bart refused to kill a mountain lion for the bounty, despite being an expert shot. Ruby, who is about to marry, asks that Bart be allowed to live with her, but the judge sends Bart away to reform school. Years later, Bart returns to town and calls on Dave, who has become a newspaper reporter, and Clyde, who is now the sheriff. He tells them that he joined the Army after reform school and has returned to settle down. That evening, the three friends go to the carnival, where they attend a demonstration by beautiful sharpshooter Annie Laurie Starr. The carnival owner, Packett, challenges the audience members to a shooting match with Laurie, and when Bart wins, Packett gives him a job. Bart and Laurie's mutual attraction angers Packett, and he tries to intimidate Laurie by reminding her about the man she killed in St. Louis. Bart comes in during the ensuing struggle and fires a warning shot, and when Packett fires them both, Bart and Laurie run away together. At Bart's insistence they get married and enjoy an idyllic honeymoon until they run out of money. Bart wants to sell his guns and take a job, but Laurie desires the fast life and lots of money. After she persuades Bart to take up armed robbery, they embark on a daring crime spree, although they never actually shoot anybody. Bart grows increasingly unhappy with their life of crime, but Laurie insists on one last heist at the Armour Meat Company. They take jobs with the firm and carefully plan to rob the payroll office. Everything goes smoothly until Laurie's supervisor, Miss Sifert, pulls the burglar alarm, and Laurie shoots her, along with a security guard. Bart and Laurie narrowly escape and manage to flee to Southern California. Bart is horrified when he reads in the paper about the death of Miss Sifert and the guard at the plant, and Laurie confesses that she killed a man in St. Louis while committing a robbery with Packett. When the FBI catches up with them by tracing money from the robbery, Bart and Laurie hop a freight train and take refuge in Ruby's house, which is near the tracks. Responding to worried calls from Ruby's neighbors, Clyde and Dave go to her house, where Bart greets his old friends at gunpoint. They urge Bart to give himself up, but Bart and Laurie take Ruby's car and drive into Madera National Park. When the car breaks down, they run into the woods, finally stopping by a swamp for the night. The next morning, through the heavy fog, they hear Clyde and Dave calling out to Bart. Laurie prepares to shoot them as they approach, but Bart shoots her and is then cut down by a hail of gunfire. Clyde and Dave look down at the bodies and slowly walk away. 

Production Company: King Bros. Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: Joseph H. Lewis (Dir)
  Frank S. Heath (Asst dir)
Producer: Maurice King (Prod)
  Frank King (Prod)
Writer: MacKinlay Kantor (Scr)
  Dalton Trumbo (Scr)
  Millard Kaufman (Scr)
Photography: Russell Harlan (Dir of photog)
  Fleet Southcott (Cam op)
  Ed Jones (Stills)
  Lloyd Garnell (Gaffer)
Art Direction: Gordon Wiles (Prod des)
Film Editor: Harry Gerstad (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Raymond Boltz Jr. (Set dec)
  Samuel Gordon (Props)
Costumes: Norma (Miss Cummins' ward)
Music: Victor Young (Mus)
  Leo Shuken (Orch)
  Sidney Cutner (Orch)
  Stuart Frye (Mus ed)
Sound: Tom Lambert (Sd eng)
Make Up: Charles Huber (Makeup)
  Carla Hadley (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Arthur Gardner (Asst to the prod)
  Allen K. Wood (Prod mgr)
  Madeleine Robinson (Dial coach)
  Jack Herzberg (Scr cont)
  Herman King (Tech adv)
  Harry Lewis (Grip)
Country: United States

Songs: "Mad About You," music by Victor Young, lyrics by Ned Washington; "Laughing on the Outside (Crying on the Inside)," music by Bernie Wayne, lyrics by Ben Raleigh.
Composer: Ben Raleigh
  Ned Washington
  Bernie Wayne
  Victor Young
Source Text: Based on the short story "Gun Crazy" by MacKinlay Kantor in The Saturday Evening Post (3 Feb 1940).
Authors: MacKinlay Kantor

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Pioneer Pictures Corp. 23/12/1949 dd/mm/yyyy LP2712

PCA NO: 14023
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Film noir
 
Subjects (Major): Criminals
  Firearms
  Murder
  Robbery
 
Subjects (Minor): Brothers and sisters
  California
  Carnivals
  Conscience
  Fog
  Judges
  Juvenile courts
  Meatpackers and meatpacking
  National Parks and Reserves--United States
  Newlyweds
  Reporters
  Sharpshooters
  Sheriffs
  Shootings
  Swamps
  Trains
  United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation

Note: The title of this film was changed in Oct 1949 to Deadly Is the Female , under which title it was reviewed by most trade publications. By the time the film played in New York, in Aug 1950, the title had been changed back to Gun Crazy . Pre-production news items in HR announced that Hy Jason and Dick Foote were to be cast in the picture, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a Mar 1949 HR news item, Veronica Lake was sought for the female lead. A 27 May 1949 HR news item reports that six-year-old Jimmy Ingram and his six sisters were cast in the film, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Portions of the film were shot on location in Montrose and Reseda, CA, and at the Angeles Crest Highway. According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the first draft of the screenplay was rejected by the Breen Office.
       In 1992, Millard Kaufman revealed that he had acted as a "front" for blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, and asked the Writers Guild of America to remove his own name from the credits. In a DV interview, Kaufman explained that although he and Trumbo did not know each other, he agreed to the arrangement at the request of their mutual agent, George Willner. "I've been telling people for years that I didn't write that movie," Kaufman told DV , "but I guess it never becomes official until it appears in the newspaper." In a modern interview in HR , Kaufman added that he had never even seen the film. In Oct 1992, at Kaufman's request, the Writers Guild gave Trumbo (who died in 1976) official writing credit, along with MacKinlay Kantor, for Gun Crazy . Also in 1992, Academy Entertainment released Guncrazy , starring Drew Barrymore, a film loosely inspired by Gun Crazy

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   5 Nov 1949.   
Daily Variety   31 Oct 49   p. 3, 11
Daily Variety   28 Oct 1992.   
The Exhibitor   23 Nov 49   p. 2751.
Film Daily   2 Nov 49   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Nov 48   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Jan 49   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Mar 49   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Apr 49   p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter   4 May 49   p. 4, 7
Hollywood Reporter   6 May 49   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   27 May 49   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Jun 49   p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Oct 49   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Oct 92   p. 3, 21.
Los Angeles Daily News   27 Jan 1950.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   5 Nov 49   p. 74.
New York Times   25 Aug 50   p. 17.
Newsweek   9 Jan 1950.   
Variety   2 Nov 49   p. 10.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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