Guncrazy: Tamra Davis Remake of Joseph Lewis Noir, Starring Drew Barrymore

Tamra Davis’ Guncrazy, a very loose remake of Joseph H. Lewis’s classic noir, Gun Crazy (1949), is an intense contemplation of two young characters under pressure.

Her film lacks the vision or tragic sweep of Lewis’ film, or for that matter, Fritz Lang’s You Only Live Once (1937) and Nicholas Ray’s They Live By Night (1949).

As the critic Andrew Sarris has noted, apart from the gun fever and amour fou, Davis tells a different story (written by Matthew Bright), with a shift of point of view from the boy in the 1949 film to the girl (Drew Barrymore) in the remake. The emotions in the original are clearer than in the new version, which emphasizes trailer-park pathology and sexual impotence (borrowed from Bonnie and Clyde).

In most movies, teenagers are played by older actors, which undercuts the credibility, but Barrymore undertook the role of Anita when she was 16. Portraying the emotional wreckage of a lost adolescence, Anita is emotionally numbed by her sordid existence, clinging to her awakened romantic feelings for Howard (James LeGros), the pen-pal-convict who becomes her lover. The adventures of the gun-happy lovers are almost over before they have begun.

Davis’ postmodernist manner makes every killing seem like an unintended catastrophe, though some compassion comes from Anita’s loyal friend, Joy (Ione Skye) and her parole-officer father, Kincaid (Michael Ironside).