Deadly Is the Female


Action / Crime / Drama / Film-Noir / Romance / Thriller


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April 16, 2014 at 03:03 AM


Russ Tamblyn as Bart Tare
Ray Teal as California Border Inspector
Ross Elliott as Detective
John Dall as Barton Tare
720p 1080p
697.57 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 26 min
P/S 1 / 7
1.23 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 26 min
P/S 2 / 3

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by pzanardo ([email protected]) 9 / 10

Quintessential film-noir

What is the quintessence of a film-noir? A good answer is: an evil strong woman that manipulates a weak, although basically decent, man, involving him in a crazy love, doomed to a tragic ending. Then we can safely state that "Deadly is the Female" is a perfect instance of film-noir.

The movie has outstanding merits. The cinematography, and especially the camera-work are excellent, and comparable to the best achievements in the film-noir genre. Justly celebrated are the scenes filmed with the camera inside the car, like that of the bank shot in Hampton, a true cinematic gem. John Dall and Peggy Cummins, in the roles of the doomed lovers Bart and Annie Laurie, make a great job. The story starts slowly (a minor drawback), but as soon as the two lovers cross the border of legality, the movie acquires a quick, exciting and ruthless pace and presents a powerful finale.

The psychology of Bart and Annie Laurie is studied with care. Annie Laurie is a systematic liar. With Bart she always looks sweet, deeply in love, even subdued to her man. To justify her shootings and murders, she always whines with Bart that she had lost her nerves, that she was scared. But when Bart is not present, the viewer gets from her body language and the cruel expression of her eyes that she just loves to kill. Great job by Peggy Cummins.

So does Laurie just make use of Bart for her dirty purposes, to satisfy her own depravity? Not at all. Oddly enough, in another famous scene we see that Laurie really loves Bart with all her heart. Only, she is bad and cruel, that's her inner core. And is Bart so stupid and bewitched not to realize that Laurie is going to ruin him? No, he knows it, and he deeply suffers, but ultimately he doesn't care. Only Laurie counts. Desperately crazy love... how fascinating! (at least in a film-noir).

The script offers several memorable lines, and the many subtleties give realism to the story. For instance, Bart and Laurie are not professional criminals, and they show it when they carelessly spend "hot" money, which will cost them dearly.

"Deadly is the Female" is an excellent film, a relevant nugget in the film-noir gold mine. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by bmacv 10 / 10

Lovers-on-the-lam saga transmuted into poetic American tragedy

Joseph H. Lewis' low-budget saga of a couple of star-crossed lovers shooting their way across the modern west may be the most achingly romantic entry in the entire noir cycle. Apart from an awkward and superfluous prologue that isn't of a piece with the rest of the film, it pushes its protagonists, and the doomed devotion that binds them together, front and center in almost every frame. Other players skitter distantly around the periphery; John Dall and Peggy Cummins take and hold the screen (she radiantly and naturally, he more reticently and stagily), making Gun Crazy in essence a two-character movie. And what a movie.

A young loner for whom firearms hold a fetishistic allure, Bart Tare (Dall) strolls into a carnival sideshow one evening where he encounters his kismet – sharpshooter Annie Laurie Starr (Cummins), the main attraction. As soon as she makes her entrance she feels his eyes burning into her, and when he takes the challenge to outshoot her, with each in turn donning a crown of matches to be ignited by the other's bullets, they both know they're playing with fire. He joins the show, but when their courtship gets them both canned, they hit the road.

Their honeymoon wanderings are a forlorn sketch of American road travel circa mid-century, as in Nabokov's Lolita: The motels, beaneries and tourist traps beckon brightly but fail to satisfy. When a fling in Vegas leaves them broke, they sit dwarfed under the vaulted, Gothic arch of a diner where they can't even pony up the extra five cents for onions with their hamburgers.

Plainly Cummins didn't bargain for genteel poverty when she set her cowboy hat for Dall – she didn't take him for such a straight-shooter. She craves luxury and, even more, excitement – blood. Only when she hints at leaving does he cave in to her bidding, and they start knocking over liquor stores, gas stations, banks. (The movie's only real playfulness emerges in the costumes they get themselves up in to pull various jobs.)

But money isn't much good to them on the lam – shivering in a shack during a Montana blizzard – so they agree to head down to Mexico, buy a little spread, raise some kids – after one last job, robbing the payroll at an Armour Packing plant. Here Cummins' blood-lust finally erupts, and, wanted now for murder, they find themselves with no place to run. Even Dall's sister offers them a frosty reception at the family homestead (`Gee, what cute kids,' Cummins observes in a voice flat as a frozen flapjack). So they head for the hills where Dall used to shoot and cavort as a boy – and where he's destined finally to break his lifelong vow never to kill.

Those final scenes of the lovers clutching one another as the dogs bay in the night, and amid the wild grasses and morning mists as their captors close in, approach a kind of spare poetry. A story of a couple of misfits on the wrong side of the law transcends its genre and turns into an authentic American tragedy. It's poignant and riveting, this ballad of Bart Tare and Annie Laurie Starr.

Reviewed by evanston_dad 7 / 10

Fine Precursor to "Bonnie and Clyde"

The original title of "Gun Crazy" was "Deadly Is the Female," and they ain't kidding. If you thought Faye Dunaway's Bonnie Parker was the more ruthless member of the crime duo that gave Arthur Penn's 1967 film its name, wait till you get a load of Peggy Cummins's Annie in this little known cheapie from 1949. I wouldn't want to get on this woman's bad side; she can shoot cigarettes out of people's mouths, for God's sake.

"Gun Crazy" is such an obvious influence on Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde" that I can't believe the later film doesn't credit it directly. Though the 1949 film is based on a short story that appeared in the "Saturday Evening Post" and the 1967 film worked with an original screenplay, both films could have been adapted from the same source. They portray the Annie/Bonnie character as bored and restless, turned on by the thought of crime and by a manly man who can really use his "gun." The Bart/Clyde character is tickled by the idea of being a virile stud in the eyes of his lover, but is ultimately too sensitive for the life they choose. And both films do a good job of portraying the desperation that plagues both couples, the isolation and loneliness they create for themselves and can never break out of, and the ultimate futility of their actions, since the "law" is going to catch up with them sooner or later.

Peggy Cummins is really good in this. I don't know what else she's been in, but her baby-doll voice creates an effective contrast to her colder-than-ice attitude. She's crooning into her lover's ear one minute and itching to kill someone the next. And you have to dig those French-inspired fashions that would cause a sensation nearly 20 years later when Dunaway donned them again for Penn's film.

I thought John Dall was at first odd casting for the role of Bart. Annie is supposed to think of him as a man's man, and Dall, with his willowy physique and gentle mannerisms is far from that. But then when we realize that he's at heart really too gentle for the life he and Annie have chosen for themselves, his casting makes sense.

There are some small touches to this film that really add to its immediacy and realism. I loved the scenes of Annie and Bart driving to and from their heist jobs, shot from the back seat of the car as if we are a member of their gang. They have really funny and natural banter back and forth about where to park, etc. which I have to believe was improvised to some extent. The ending of the film, a face off in a creepy swamp, is eerie, and there's a small twist in the last seconds of the film that might be easy to miss but may give you some things to think about if you catch it.

It's interesting, and rather depressing, that one of the main themes of this film is the obsession with guns and violence that pervaded the country nearly 60 years ago, and here we are a handful of wars later, still dragging around the same old obsessions. Michael Moore's recent documentary "Bowling for Columbine" could have just as easily been called "Gun Crazy," if that title weren't already taken by this forgotten little blast of a movie.

Grade: A-

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