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Drew is the focus of this feature; for how old she was during the making of this film [15? 16?] she doesn't really disappoint. Her pouty beauty is on ample display in this film. That said, in a couple more years, I think she would have fit more into this role. I wasn't surprised that it was a Matthew Bright script; this has much in common with his later directorial/scripted work "Freeway" in terms of character development. (I feel Bright is an outstanding B-film auteur). Tamra Davis blew some important scenes that could have went another way, but she made up with this with some pretty inspired casting for some of the supporting roles. Ironside, Drago... and I don't remember the sleazy guy who played Drew's mother's boyfriend... but they were all in high style and rare form. You can't beat these guys when they're hitting their cues. LeGros certainly didn't embarrass himself and carved another good portrayal (this guy is a great actor!). For a film that seems to be now so cheap that it's practically in the public domain ($1 DVDs at WalMart and such...) .. I'm surprised this hasn't gotten more recognition, and I'd be sad if it was written off as badly by the producers as I assume it has been to be in such disarray marketing-wise.
We thought this film was a remake of the much better film noir of the
same title, or as it's known in this forum, "Deadly is the Female", a
1949 Joseph Lewis' film with a screen play by MacKinlay Kantor. But no,
this is another film altogether using the same title as the other one.
As directed by Tamra Davis, with the screen treatment by Matthew
Bright, this is a film that tries to deliver, but in the end, it's
predictable, as we know the mistakes of the couple at the center of the
story would work against them.
Anita Minteer seems to be a loner. We watch her in school, where she is not a popular girl in any shape, or form. Some of the pot heads from her school take her for a ride in which two end up having sex with her. Anita has been left to fend for herself by her absent mother, who has gone to Fresno to make some money and ultimately have Anita come live with her. Anita is being sexually abused by her mother's good for nothing boyfriend. The girl loves to learn how to use guns, and Rooney, who wants to keeps her, complies. A sad mistake! Her love for guns will ultimately be her downfall and that of the only person that really loved her.
At school, Anita, and her class, have been asked to find a pen pal, as part of a project. She finds one, but unfortunately, Howard, who writes to her, is in jail. Anita finds a kind garage owner, who is also the head of a weird congregation, to vouch for Howard, who is paroled and comes to work in the town. Howard, is a man who has had no luck, either with women, or in anything else. It's sort of inevitable Anita and Howard fall in love and are married by the minister. Fate is against this duo; in a series of events, Howard will go back to his old ways when forced to do so. We realize there's no way out for this doomed man, or for Anita.
The film doesn't disappoint thanks to the charismatic Drew Barrymore playing Anita. This is a girl too wise for her own good. James Legros, is as always, an interesting actor to watch. His take on Howard, is right. In supporting roles, Joe Dallesandro plays Anita mother's boyfriend, a creep that takes advantage of the situation. Michael Ironside is also seen as Howard's parole officer and Ione Skye plays his daughter, Anita's rebellious friend.
Tamra Davis directs with an eye for detail. This film will not disappoint to crime film fans.
For a school project, promiscuous 15-year-old Drew Barrymore (as Anita
Minteer) is instructed to find herself a pen pal. So, she begins
writing to 24-year-old prison inmate James LeGros (as Howard Hickok),
who is serving time for manslaughter. Through their correspondence, Ms.
Barrymore falls in love with Mr. LeGros, and decides to stop having sex
with the guys at school, like Rodney Harvey (as Tom) and Jeremy Davies
(as Bill). Barrymore also becomes enamored with guns, and learns how to
shoot, from absent mother's sexy boyfriend Joe Dallesandro (as Rooney).
When Barrymore cuts him off, Mr. Dallesandro turns to rape.
Meanwhile, Barrymore is attempting to get LeGros out of jail, on parole, by convincing snake-charming preacher Billy Drago (as Hank Fulton) that the pistol-whipping prisoner has accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. The parole board buys the ruse, and LeGros is good to go. Ironically, he is unable to satisfy Barrymore's sexual appetite. Still, the pair become close companions. Problems arise when Barrymore reveals a deadly secret to LeGros, and the young couple's "Guncrazy" tendencies boil over. Writer Matthew Bright's doomed characters simmer alongside director Tamra Davis' banister end. The cast is a future cult dream.
****** Guncrazy (5/92) Tamra Davis ~ Drew Barrymore, James LeGros, Billy Drago, Rodney Harvey
A sterling cast and a reasonably well written script lift this tale of teenagers on the run from the law into 'above average' territory. James LeGros (also memorable in Drugstore Cowboy) plays a paroled convict trying to get his life in order. Drew Barrymore is a confused teen who loves guns, and Warhol alum Joe Dalessandro is the scumbag who abuses her. When Drew and James hookup (shortly after she's offed Joe!) complications ensue. Guncrazy is predictable but entertaining and doesn't pander to it's audience, and it's a damn sight better than Natural Born Killers.
Guncrazy is directed by Tamra Davis and written by Matthew Bright. It
stars Drew Barrymore, James Legros, Ione Skye, Michael Ironside, Joe
Dallesandro and Billy Drago. Music is by Ed Tomney and cinematography
by Lisa Rinzer.
"Love made them crazy. Guns made them outlaws!"
High schooler Anita Minteer (Barrymore) is abused at home and at school and by so called friends. Seeking some sort of solace, she befriends - via letters - a convict named Howard (Legros). When Howard is paroled, the pair hook up and quickly find a loving bond. A bond that also involves a passion for guns...
In spite of reports in some quarters, this is not a remake of Joseph H. Lewis' superb film noir of the same name (though the words gun and crazy are separated there) from 1950. Whilst it's also worth mentioning that it's not a knock-off of Bonnie and Clyde (outstanding and trailblazing pic for sure), because for that to be the case we would have to ignore the fact that Lewis' film, and the likes of They Live by Night (Nicolas Ray - 1948) , were not key influences and big movers in the lovers on the lam splinter of noir. It is of course, an amalgamation of said influences, and despite a relatively average rating on the big internet movie sites, this is a neo-noir well worth seeking out for those so inclined.
Students of classic era film noir can't but help to be pulled in by the many deviance's at work, themes involving sexual abuse, promiscuity, impotence, alienation, prostitution and foolish love, the latter pitching a classic noir character into a vortex from which they in all probability know they can't return from. It's not that Anita is a femme fatale, because she's so young and isn't written as a viper type, it's that her youthful ignorance, her teenage hormones tortured by a torrid upbringing, is enough for Howard to grasp onto as a semblance of normality. They are both fools, but honest with it, it's the classic romanticised dream going sour. Again, a classic film noir trait.
Visually there is much to recommend here. The use of slatted shadows and balustrade is cunning and nods appreciatively to influences past, the inference obviously that Howard may be out of prison, but he's still behind bars. Davis throws in a number of striking scenes, a camera shot looking out as a grave is dug, our lovers close and personal (sexy) as they shoot guns, and the finale has a sad grace that, "again," noir lovers can appreciate. Matthew Bright's screenplay also has black comedy elements, the script devious with Freudian smarts, while the cast turn in performances worthy of the form.
OK! So this formula has been done better before, and yes we want more of Ironside and Drago (wonderful characters), and this may have underwhelmed those after a gun crazy action thriller - while Barrymore fans back in the day may have been bemused - but it's a very smart and neatly constructed neo-noir. 7.5/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I guess one could look at the Matthew Bright scripted, Tamra Davis
directed Guncrazy as an updated-to-the-90's modern day Bonnie and Clyde
where two down-on-their-luck youths(twenty-something LeGros, minor
Barrymore), whose lives were disheveled by broken homes or troubled
upbringing, form a fateful union where guns fall into their hands with
crime certain to follow. LeGros, recently converted to Christianity
while in prison on a murder charge, becomes pen pals to teenage Drew
Barrymore(..it was a high school assignment to find a pen pal) whose
mom ran out on her, and who is currently living with a loathsome lout
once linked to mama.
I think the brilliance of Bright's script is how he builds to the ultimate crescendo of violence which erupts at the end, showing through a series of circumstances which tragically befall them(..two high school cretins who will not listen to LeGros who demands for them to leave the premises, and how they're unwilling to listen due to their desire to proposition Barrymore, Barrymore's murder of her mother's lover after he rapes her, the resistance against parole officer Michael Ironside's demand for LeGros to return to jail until he can be moved elsewhere resulting in the murder of a cop, failed burglary at a bar, the inability to find Barrymore's mother in Fresno), that they were doomed to suffer an inevitable fate.
They're very much victims of circumstance, a domino-effect-spiral culminating, bit by bit, until faced with a laundry list of criminal activities which follow one mistake upon another. What I admired about this particular film was the casting for the couple on the lam. Barrymore is adorable as a conflicted teenager, with a reputation for spreading her legs for many of the local boys, considered little more than trailer trash. She's without parental guidance or love, and LeGros fulfills these longings she has never known, he himself on the mend and hoping to find his place. Unlike the usual role of a recently released ex-con attempting to go straight, LeGros is handsome, modest, relatively pleasant and easy-going, not demanding anything of Barrymore but her love. He's not a monster, really, and quite vulnerable. He's also a virgin and impotent..which kind of adds a dynamic to his relationship to Barrymore for she's always been used for little more than sexual purposes. Joe Dallesandro has a very unflattering role as Barrymore's scum-bucket "father figure", a drunk pedophile who takes advantage of her(..and probably has perhaps contributed to why Barrymore is rather skewed in regards to her overview of men / boys;this has probably been occurring since Barrymore was a child), providing her with guidance in how to fire a gun properly.
Guncrazy can probably be viewed as a precursor to Bright's wicked, acid-tongued Freeway, known as his masterpiece. As is evident in this film, Bright seems drawn to "derelicts to society", the undesirables who seem to eventually fall through the cracks and into a life of crime. The amusing aspect to me in this film is just how poor LeGros and Barrymore are as criminals..the bar scene a particular highlight in how the victims are able to guilt the duo into returning their cash! Good use of California locations and the cinematography is at times inventive while also capturing / casting certain areas in a rather unsavory light due to the characters focused on(..impoverished rural places outside cities and certain areas of urban squalor)such as Billy Drago(..another in his many customary weirdo roles)as a mechanic / preacher who gives LeGros a job, room, and board. Ironside has the role of a slightly contemptible parole officer, a bigot(..towards "white trash", characters Bright seems to embrace)who doesn't like the idea of his daughter(Ione Skye)hanging around with Barrymore, and doesn't trust LeGros. I really was drawn to the off-beat nature of the film and how it cares for it's leads..I mean, despite their faults, they tried to carve out a decent life for themselves, allowing their impulses to ruin any chance of co-existing in a harsh world.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first saw Guncrazy a mere few days ago, not when it was originally aired on television. My first impression, just by looking at the cover of the DVD, was of your basic coming-of-age-movie, with the nice romantic story and twist of the lovers being gun-obsessed. I actually got more than I expected. Drew Barrymore breathed incredible life into the character of a teenager sexually abused by her guardian, and hated and bullied by her classmates. The disillusioned teen is under the impression that men are after one thing and one thing only, and couldn't possibly want her for anything else, aptly shown by a sequence of her handing herself over on a plate to two guys. For a project in her geography class, Barrymore's character Anita comes into contact with a convict by the name of Howard Hickock, and the two of them become intimate pen pals. On Howard being released from prison on parole, Anita gets him a job working with a local (slightly crazy) preacher, and he seems to be getting his life back on track. Anita and Howard fall more and more in love, and decide to marry. Obviously, this all goes horribly wrong the moment Anita confesses her big secret to Howard - she has killed her abusive guardian, and is hiding the body behind her trailer. This starts off a chain reaction of murders by Howard and Anita, leading them on the run across the country, in search of Anita's ever-absent mother. The final sequence was the most heartbreaking and beautiful in the whole movie. Anita and Howard break into the home of a woman they came across on their travels, who they know will be away, for safe shelter during the night. Inside, they watch family slide shows, wear expensive jewellery and clothes, and live like royalty - or, as Howard said, like "Nice people". The night seems perfect, and the couple seem at their happiest. It all turns horrible, with police catching up with the outlaws at the last minute. A slow-motion shoot-out between the cops and the lovers ends in tragedy, and will have tears welling up in your eyes. What made this movie great? The director doesn't start much action until about halfway into the movie, but the first half is just as enjoyable, as you watch the lover's relationship unfold and blossom. The second half sees their relationship mature, and it also sees Anita grow from naive teenager to young woman, and Howard grow more comfortable in their relationship. A coming-of-age movie indeed, and yet very, very different from what you will expect. An emotional journey, that spans lives and loves, and will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.
Drew Barrymore plays a hick-town lass in denim who meets a struggling young ex-con determined to go legit (you know he's not going to last long--the close-ups of Barrymore's pretty, dangerous smile and gleaming eyes tell you that!). Director Tamra Davis isn't interested in copying old film-noirs (such as "Deadly is the Female"), yet her original set-up isn't very intriguing either. The drowsy material at the beginning with an over-aged Ione Skye doesn't work, and Davis takes a good hour to get the energy pumping. Finally, in its last third, "Guncrazy" starts feeling a little feverish and exciting, the action sequences far out-weighing the canned dramatics. Barrymore has a lovely presence on-screen, but she needs a much tougher director to guide her through the complexities of character, not someone like Davis whose grip on this material just isn't firm enough. ** from ****
Anita Minteer (Drew Barrymore) is bored with high school. She lives in
a trailer with her absentee mother's drunken boyfriend Rooney. She has
sex with him as well as many of the boys at school. The teacher assigns
the kids to be pen pals and she finds prisoner Howard (James Le Gros).
After getting raped by Rooney, she kills him. Howard gets released from
Chino. Anita convinces snake preacher and mechanic Hank Fulton (Billy
Drago) to give him a job. Mr. Kincaid (Michael Ironside) is his parole
officer. Kincaid's daughter Joy (Ione Skye) is Anita's best friend.
Anita marries Howard and together fall into violence and mayhem.
This is an exploitation movie with gun, sex and violence. I have trouble with the star-crossed lovers. Their chemistry doesn't quite work. Their age difference is a big part of it. I think Howard should be more of a juvenile criminal. Howard is around the same age as Rooney and that annoyed me. I like Anita's explanation that Howard's letters gave her the confidence to stand up for herself. That is a great basis for their relationship. His age and James Le Gros' looks make them a problematic couple.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Anita Minteer(Drew Barrymore)is a teen that is frequently raped by her absentee mother's boyfriend Rooney(Joe Dallesandro). With a self-worth lacking, Anita is an easy target for the boys at school. Her trashy reputation is local common knowledge. A school assignment forces her to get a pen pal. That she does; forming an unhealthy relationship with a prisoner named Howard(James LeGos). She manages to get him an early parole with the aid of a snake worshiping preacher(Billy Drago). Anita has a penchant for guns; which is also Howard's weapon of choice. Criminal ways are hard to shake; but Anita is impressed that someone really loves her. Also in the cast: Michael Ironside, Ione Skye, Rodney Harvey and Dan Eisenstein. Ms. Barrymore is totally charming...even as white trash.
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