Monday, March 09, 2009

Gun Crazy

By request, R's birthday treat was a trip to the BFI to see this 1949 made B/W film, considered a classic of the film noir genre, although made on a B-movie budget. Afterwards, he said, we'd go to the Hole in the Wall pub near Waterloo station.

We almost turned back after getting drenched in a freezing sleet shower. We had to take a replacement bus instead of the train followed by a cold wait at New Cross on the draughty middle platform.

NFT3 was full and no wonder- it was a gem of a film, a kind of precursor of 'Bonnie and Clyde' in the depiction of young lovers living on the proceeds of bank raids, but with some special twists in the way of plot and direction.

John Dall was very watchable as a well-meaning young man who is obsessed with guns but unwilling to shoot people. He falls for Peggy Cummins, a sharpshooter in a fairground show. In the tradition of film noir dames, she's not so scrupulous. It's also typical that she wants the kind of lifestyle that honest work won't bring. It all goes excitingly downhill to the final scene where the doomed pair are cornered in a foggy marsh.

Direction, acting and atmosphere were all very good, especially in the bank robbery scene, shot from the back of a car in which the leads are travelling, in one four-minute take.

An extra surprise treat was Peggy Cummins making a personal appearance, answering questions before the start of the film. She looked smart in black pants and a red jacket, with perfectly coiffed silver hair. It was odd to see the sweet 80-year-old lady being helped into her cinema seat one minute and soon after appearing onscreen as the irresistible femme fatale.

As we left, we saw her getting into a chauffeured car parked outside the cinema. The rain had stopped but we swerved the Hole in the Wall. As our clothes were still damp, it seemed wiser to take a rain-check.

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