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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Gun Crazy [Blu-ray]

 

(Joseph H. Lewis, 1950)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: King Brothers Productions

Video: Wild Side Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:27:12.435

Disc Size: 22,665,363,498 bytes

Feature Size: 19,191,478,272 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.97 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 4th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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)

 

Subtitles:

French, none

 

Extras:

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?)
Contains:
- Blu-ray film

- DVD movie
- The book "Gun Crazy" written by Eddie Muller, founder of the Black Film Foundation and authors of books on film noir - see image below (220 pages French text)
"Peggy Cummins: point blank": interview with actress (22:14 - 576i)
"Russ Tamblyn: child of the" interview with the actor (26:54 - 576i)
Interview with Joseph H. Lewis (:54 in 576i)

Analysis of driving scene (2:21 in 576i)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

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 Film:

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.

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.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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!

 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Warner (Film Noir Classic Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Wild Side - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (Film Noir Classic Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Wild Side - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Warner (Film Noir Classic Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Wild Side - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred in an authentically flat DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at a modest 917 kbps. The score composed by Victor Young (Three Faces West, The Sun Shines Bright, Johnny Guitar, China Gate, The File on Thelma Jordan etc.) certainly benefits from the uncompressed rendering - adding another dark, edgy, layer. 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!

 

Extras :

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.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Gun Crazy is on of the THE Noir films supporting the cycle and a tremendous choice for the new format. Seeing how indifferent North America has exported the film digitally, it's no wonder the French, with great respect for the 'dark cinema', have put together such an amazing package. Honestly, I could watch this Blu-ray a third time - right after seeing it twice already. This may be the, single film, package of the year - no, not 'may be' - it is... our highest recommendation!

NOTE: While this is limited to 5,000 copies (that is a lot!) I still wouldn't wait if you were keen. 

Gary Tooze

December 16th, 2013


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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