Wild Animals (Gun Crazy, 1950)

The Femme Fatale is exceptional at making it appear as if she is the one that’s being pursued. Meanwhile, it was her plan all along…

This cunning creature observes, plots and schemes in order to secure her position. Once she has picked her prey she determines her strategy based on their characteristics. Your weakness is her strength.

The importance of an entrance

Annie comes in on us, guns blazing. The first sighting we get of this feline star is her walking out on the stage of a carnival rodeo show in which she is the shining star. Held up high above her head, in each hand a gun. She’s shooting blanks wildly into the air as she takes the stage.

The camera pans down from her hands to her face and reveals a flirty, searching look from Annie. Her gaze is momentarily fixed on one person in the crowd, as she scans them up and down, somewhat approving. But then she gets distracted by something better… the camera now goes back and forth between Annie and the man who has managed to steal her attention. We see her willing ‘gun crazy’ victim Bart practically giving himself away on the spot. With her eyes fixed on Bart, she fires the blank filled gun straight at him, and smiles. Bart is bemused, and lets out a nervous yet excited laugh.

Earlier, the movie’s male protagonist is shown as having been a gun fiend from a very young age on. Young Bart’s first experience with an innocently gifted BB gun results in him shooting a little baby chick smack dead – a result which shocks the young boy but doesn’t quite kill his appetite for guns. 

After breaking a store window and stealing a gun, teenage Bart is sent to juvenile confinement. 

Then, some years later he returns to his hometown, a bettered now fully grown man with good intentions of settling down and living a straight life. The first day of his return he tags along for an outing to the carnival with two of his best childhood friends. Fate is tempted as he takes place in the front row of the rodeo show.


And then she comes, the Venus, proudly parading in each hand one: Bart’s weakness. 

What this scene shows is our Femme Fatale recognizing a fellow fiend, and realizing what it means for her. Has she found her soulmate, a sucker to exploit, an accomplice? Who knows… all we know is that the moment she points that blank filled gun at him and fires, she chooses him.

© Barbara Timmers. Article Prepublication. All rights reserved.