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Gun Crazy [Blu-ray]
(Joseph H. Lewis, 1950)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: King Brothers Productions
Video:Wild Side Video / Warner Archive
Region: FREE (both) (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:27:12.435/ 1:27:06.471
Disc Size: 22,665,363,498 bytes / 33,189,432,637 bytes
Feature Size: 19,191,478,272 bytes / 27,001,430,016 bytes
Video Bitrate: 25.97 Mbps / 34.99 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 24
Case: Standard Blu-ray case (both)
Release date: December 4th, 2013 / May 8th, 2018
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio French 832 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 832 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 917 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 917 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Master Audio English 1984 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1984 kbps /
24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2038 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2038 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
•Limited edition box and numbered to 5000 copies
Volume 3 of the series "Art of Black" (Night of the Demon and Night of the Hunter?)
- Blu-ray film
- DVD movie
Analysis of driving scene (2:21 in 576i)
Commentary by Glenn Erickson
Description: Even as a child, Bart Tare (John Dall) always loved firearms. After a brief stint in the military, his friends take him to a carnival, where he spies his perfect girl, Annie (Peggy Cummins). She is a sharp-shooter (of course) who similarly loves guns. It seems a coupling made in heaven until Annie becomes disenchanted with the lack of money. Like Bonnie and Clyde they begin traveling across the country supporting themselves with armed robberies. Annie shows her true colors and Bart is trapped; divided by his love and his morals. Often described as "Lovers-on-the-lam story formulated into a poetic American tragedy". This is a another prime example of classic 'noir' and has themes running much deeper than most in the genre. Some might recognize Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story) as the young Bart.
The definitive Joseph H. Lewis-directed melodrama, Gun Crazy is the "Bonnie and Clyde" story retooled for the disillusioned postwar generation. John Dall plays a timorous, emotionally disturbed World War II veteran who has had a lifelong fixation with guns. He meets a kindred spirit in carnival sharpshooter Peggy Cummins, who is equally disturbed -- but a lot smarter, and hence a lot more dangerous. Beyond their physical attraction to one another, both Dall and Cummins are obsessed with firearms. They embark on a crime spree, with Cummins as the brains and Dall as the trigger man. As sociopathic a duo as are likely to be found in a 1940s film, Dall and Cummins are also perversely fascinating. As they dance their last dance before dying in a hail of police bullets, the audience is half hoping that somehow they'll escape the Inevitable. Some critics have complained that Dall is far too effeminate and Cummins too butch, but Joseph H. Lewis was never known to draw anything in less than broad strokes: recall the climax of Terror in a Texas Town, wherein Sterling Hayden participates in a western showdown armed with a whaler's harpoon. The best and most talked-about scene in Gun Crazy is the bank robbery sequence, shot in "real time" from the back seat of Dall and Cummins' getaway car. Originally slated for Monogram release, Gun Crazy enjoyed a wider exposure when its producers, the enterprising King Brothers, chose United Artists as the distributor. The film was based on a magazine article by MacKinlay Kantor; one of the scenarists was uncredited blacklistee Dalton Trumbo.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
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.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Firstly, like Night of the Demon this is excellent news; not only is this Wild Side Blu-ray edition region FREE but the subtitles are removable (on my standard Oppo Blu-ray player) despite the menus insinuating, incorrectly, that you must have French subtitles when choosing English audio. I simply chose the English Audio option and chose 'no subtitles' with my remote's 'Subtitle' button. So, while I can't speak to all players - on my system the subtitles are removable when original English is chosen.
Gun Crazy gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Wile Side Video in France. It's only single-layered but has a supportive bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. Restoration work shows in the image cleanliness and the 1080P augments solid contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels and some appealing depth in the 1.33:1 frame. It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and it is a definite step forward from the 2004 SD. This Blu-ray highlights Russell Harlan's wonderful cinematography and I see no evidence of noise or other detractions. It gave me a fabulous presentation!
The Warner Archive Blu-ray is in advance of the Wild Side. It's on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate and both grain and detail rise - while there is slight movement in the 1.37:1 frame showing more on the left edge and a small amount less on the right edge when compared to the French Blu-ray. It's the grain and some apparent depth that makes the Warner Archive the winner in terms of 1080P video transfer.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More Blu-ray Captures
More Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray Captures
Audio is transferred in an authentically flat DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at a modest 917 kbps. Dialogue is clean and clear while gun shots have some surprising bass - there is a French DUB and French subtitles (both option able with the remote) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE!
Also a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track but 24-bit as opposed to the Wild Side's 16-bit. This becomes most apparent in the score composed by Victor Young (Three Faces West, The Sun Shines Bright, Johnny Guitar, China Gate, The File on Thelma Jordan etc.) which benefits from the uncompressed rendering - adding layers of darkness, romance and suspicion. The Warner is also a Region FREE Blu-ray but has optional English subtitles in a large yellow font (see sample above).
Most notably about this package is the hefty and beautifully bound 220-page, French-translated, book "Gun Crazy" written by Eddie Muller, founder of the Film Noir Foundation. It is filled with fabulous photos, script changes (English), posters but mostly French text. It is magnificent! The Blu-ray has a very brief interview with Joseph H. Lewis and two, more recent interviews; Peggy Cummins for 22-minutes on stage comfortably sitting with a host and, open forum, crowd plus - separately - a bearded Russ Tamblyn talking about his experiences for about 25-minutes. Both interviews are in English with mandatory French subtitles. There is also a 2.5 minute video-essay analysis of the driving-to-the-bank scene - only in French. There is also a PAL DVD with similar contents to the Blu-ray. The book is the most beautiful accoutrement I've seen this year.
Warner include a good commentary by Glenn Erickson (author of Sci-Fi Savant) and he covers the production, Lewis, performers in great detail touching on Annie's sexual manipulation, and the differences from the original story, etc.. It's quite interesting and worth the extra spin. Also included is Gary Leva's 2006, hour-plus documentary, Film Noir: Bring Darkness to Light , originally on Warner's 2006 DVD set of Film Noir Classic Collection (6-discs), Vol. 3. It has Dr. Drew Casper, Roger Deakins, James Ellroy, Glenn Erickson, William Goldman, Eddie Muller, Kim Newman, Christopher Nolan, Sydney Pollack and many other with archival footage of John Alton, Edward Dmytryk, Jane Greer. It is excellent, described as "Film Noir burrows into the mind; it's disorienting, intriguing and enthralling. Noir brings us into a gritty underworld of lush morbidity, providing intimate peeks at its tough, scheming dames, mischievous misfits and flawed men - all caught in the wicked web of a twisted fate".
Wild Side Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Warner Archive - Region FREE - Blu-ray
NOTE: While this is limited to 5,000 copies (that is a lot!) I still wouldn't wait if you were keen.
Finally, almost 5 years later - Warner gives the iconic Gun Crazy a US Blu-ray release. Despite the lavish book (in French) the Warner wins on every front. Priced right - this has essential value for dark cinema fans... don't hesitate - your collection is weaker without it.
December 16th, 2013
May 16th, 2018