Friday, January 25, 2013

Gun Crazy (1950)

WHO: Peggy Cummins, star of a couple dozen British and American films, three of which you'll have the opportunity to see in the next day or so.

WHAT: I'm generally loathe to discuss politics very directly on this blog, or even to discuss current events that have nothing to do with the unveiling of a new local film program. But sometimes elephants are too big to be contained in rooms.

There was no way that Noir City honcho Eddie Muller could have predicted, when selecting the opening film of the eleventh iteration of his much-beloved film festival, that the horrific Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut would have occurred a little over a month before the screening was to take place. While that real-life tragedy has sparked the (comparatively oh-so-slim) sliver of a silver lining, in the form of a relatively sustained national conversation about our nation's firearm obsession, that sees little sign of letting up any time soon, it might seem unseemly to some to enjoy a night on the town watching a film with a title like Gun Crazy. Maybe a film called Deadly is The Female (the title the studio hung on the film, unsuccessfully, before changing it back), but not Gun Crazy.

But if you've seen Gun Crazy recently, you may recognize this as a faulty impression. If ever there was an opportune time to take a fresh look at Joseph H. Lewis's cheaply-made lovers-on-the-run thriller, and realize just how clear-eyed it is about the dangerous allure guns hold for many people in this country, now is it.  In fact, it wouldn't be so bad for Gun Crazy (which was, in it's day, a flop, but is now the very definition of a cult classic) to play a part in the current national conversation.

WHERE/WHEN: 8:00 PM at the Castro Theatre tonight. Arrive as early as 7PM for an hour of pre-film entertainment, not to mention better seating options.

WHY: The real reason to see Gun Crazy tonight, of course, has nothing to do with Sandy Hook and everything to do with Peggy Cummins, who is just phenomenal in the film, and who will, at age 87, be here in person, flown in from London for an onstage conversation after the screening. How great is that? Two more Cummins films will screen tomorrow afternoon: the chilling and brilliant Curse of the Demon (also known as Night of the Demon) and the somewhat lesser-known Hell Drivers, but I don't believe she's expected to appear at those screenings.

HOW: 35mm print, the way all but four of the Noir City offerings this year are expected to screen.

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