- Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Dean Jagger, John Ericson, Gene Barry
- Directors: Samuel Fuller
- Producers: Samuel Fuller
- Format: PAL
- Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Number of discs: 1
- Classification: PG
- Studio: Studiocanal
- DVD Release Date: 23 Aug. 2004
- Run Time: 80 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B0002HSDTG
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 92,832 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
Forty Guns [DVD] 
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Samuel Fuller writes and directs this classic western starring Barbara Stanwyck. The story follows authoritarian rancher Jessica Drummond (Stanwyck), who rules the town of Tombstone in Cochise County, Arizona, with her private posse of forty hired guns, brushing aside the spineless sheriff Ned Logan (Dean Jagger). However, when non-violent lawman Griff Bonnell (Barry Sullivan) arrives to restore law and order to the county, Jessica finds her emotions interfering with business for the first time as she falls passionately in love with the newcomer.
Offers the anticipated measures of doomed love and sudden death but surprises with its dramatic richness. --New Yorker --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.
Top customer reviews
Second, Fuller was a victim of regime change at the studio, and had a happy ending forced on him at the end. It is very unsatisfactory, and there were no Director's Cuts in those days.
Stanwyck is the nominal star, but it has to be said that she is not the main character and her ballsiness is comparatively subdued. The main character is Griff (Barry Sullivan), who is trying to give up the gunman's life, but placed in a situation where he has to shoot, and shoot his love as well. This is classic Fuller territory, direct from his ambivalence about his WW2 experiences. However, the final shootout feels rushed, and not nearly as operatic as Mr F was capable of on a good day.
There are three brilliant sequences which are pure Fuller. The trap for Griff set up by the corrupt sheriff, all agonised close-ups and weird angles; a furious tornado which looks pretty damn real and has 50-year-old Stanwyck doing her own stunt as her horse bolts with her foot caught in the stirrup; and a romance scene between brother Chico and Rio, the local gunsmith. A woman gunsmith? Pinned down the sights of a shotgun? ("I've never kissed a gunsmith before.." - "Any recoil?") Only in Fuller....
One thing which distinguishes the movie is its up-front sexuality and relentless innuendo. "Can I touch it?" says cattle queen Babs. "It might go off in your face.." replies Griff/Barry. Are they talking about his gun? In case you're in any doubt, the opening shot has Stanwyck sweeping past with her Forty Guns in a stampede, and shortly afterwards, if you're still in doubt, there's a strange dinner scene in which all forty men sit around a table with Babs, all in formal dress, and all silent as a harem.
The other Fuller touch is the fact that the two lawmen in the movie are so unconventional. The first, Chisum, is going blind and trying to get out of town when he is gunned down; the second (Dean Jagger) is infatuated with Stanwyck and hangs himself.
While we're on dodgy sexuality, the villain is a pretty-boy James Dean type gone to the bad. Fuller was tough on teenagers, especially teenagers with pretentions.
Where he's let down is having three brothers to follow in the story, which slows it down a lot (should have cut one), and in being saddled with two truly awful cowboy ballads which are sung onscreen. These two factors make a modest 78 minutes seem like 110.
Fuller is clearly influenced by the famous "Gunfight at the OK Corral". Three brothers led by Barry Sullivan arrive at a small Arizona town. They are peace officers sent by the government to effect the arrest of a man employed by the magnificent Barbara Stanwyck. The man happens to be one of her "Forty Guns" who hold the territory in thrall. Sullivan plays Wyatt Earp to Stanwyck's Old Man Clanton. A much more attractive Old Man Clanton than that played by Walter Brennan in "My Darling Clementine", I might add. The brothers even wear the same clothes as the Earp's did. After the shooting of the town marshall the brothers become involved in restoring law and order and head to an inevitable showdown with Stanwyck's wild brother, played by a remarkably James Dean looking John Ericson.
The film contains a number of startling, eye opening scenes that influenced Fuller's younger European contemporaries. There is the famous gunfight scene where Sullivan walks his adversary down, using his mere physical presence to avoid violence, which he studiously tries to avoid. Then there is the rifle framing scene of Eve Brent which Godard copied in "A Bout de Souffle"(60). The film is also notable for the many extreme close ups of eyes, which give it a powerful emotional depth. A device copied by Sergio Leone. One particularly remembers the eyes of Lee Van Cleef. Perhaps most outrageous and funny was Fuller's bawdy use of sexual innuendo. When Stanwyck eye poppingly asks Sullivan if she can feel it, you are momentarily stunned until he hands her his gun. Even Stanwyck's theme song is rather suggestive, starting with the line "A high ridin woman with a whip........? Hmmmm!
Special mention should be made of perhaps my favourite actress of all time, the incomparable Barbara Stanwyck, who had a look that could shrivel any man to ashes. Small in stature she made up for that with a colossal screen presence, and she once again strolls away with the acting honours in what was a no contest. She did all her own stunts, including the very dangerous one where she is dragged by a galloping horse having caught her foot in a stirrup. What a woman! She seems to progress the roles she played in Anthony Mann's "The Furies"(50), Allan Dwan's "Cattle Queen of Montana"(54) and Joseph Kane's "The Maverick Queen"(56). Stanwyck is ably assisted by Sullivan, Gene Barry and John Ericson. There is also strong support from the indefatigable Hank Worden, and that excellent stalwart actor Dean Jagger.
The film is almost as if Fuller is showing off his abilities like a strutting peacock. But he is a very handsome peacock, which lets him off the hook. Oh, and look out for the very impressive ending, which was not the one that Fuller originally intended. The scene like the film shows Fuller at his brilliant, brash, bold and sassy best. Fuller beat a wide larger than life swathe in cinema, and leaves his unique fingerprints all over this film. A fine film and a worthy five stars. It is also worth knowing that the film can be purchased as part of the seven disc "western classics collection" by optimum which I have also reviewed.