Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Peggy Cummins Has Merged With The Infinite
I was unable to confirm yesterday when I saw the news, but now The Hollywood Reporter has it that actor Peggy Cummins has passed.
Cummins is in at least two fantastic movies, Curse of the Demon (1957) and, of course, one of my hands-down favorite films, Gun Crazy (1950).
You can read the linked article to get a notion of Cummins' career, which was fairly brief despite her obvious talents. Not everyone stays in pictures, or even in Hollywood.
Gun Crazy has a fairly sizable cult following, and is considered a high mark for film noir. Eddie Muller has written a terrific book on the film's rocky history, and the Czar of Noir was able to fly Cummins to the Castro a few years back as a guest of honor for a screening of the film during Noir City.
What were it the case I could make it to the SF Film Noir Fest/ Noir City more often, but I'd been the year before and so missed Cummins. However, JeniferS managed to land me a signed poster from the event, which hangs framed in my living room.
Trying to explain Gun Crazy is, like all favorite cult films, a tough sell. The plot sounds berserk, and it's not for everyone. Parts are absolutely brutal (for the time), and it's not a story about heroes, informing later movies - I suspect Warren Beatty and Arthur Penn had viewed this movie as they approached Bonnie and Clyde (I'd be shocked if this weren't true). Between the excellent direction of the film, a lean, mean script, a solid co-star in John Dall and Cummins' phosphorescent performance (you have to go to Gilda for an entrance with as much impact) and the mix of explosive set-pieces and noir-tragedy, it's a hell of a movie from start to finish.
And, it's one of the most weirdly sexy movies I can probably name in a field of weirdly sexy movies - an inherent trait of the post-facto genre of noir.
Curse of the Demon has been a horror staple since its release, but Cummins isn't as front and center in that film and not given as much to work with. I think it's just been in the last decade or two, but I am certain Cummins became aware of the devotion fans had, particularly stateside, for Gun Crazy. I'm glad she got to see how her work will endure.