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.
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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.Read more ›
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).Read more ›
In the main, Fuller also does an impressive job in marshalling his cast with what was (no doubt) a relatively limited budget, allowing him to cast Barbara Stanwyck as the temperamental ('I was born upset’) and passionate landowner Jessica Drummond, who 'rules’ Cochise county with a rod of iron, supported by her (abundant) titular 'employees’. To be honest, given that Fuller’s film runs to barely 80 minutes, he probably tries to fit too much narrative in, but still manages to construct plenty of memorable set-pieces and to explore his themes of corruption, duplicity and brotherly bonding as Barry Sullivan’s gunfighter (and prosecutor) Griff Bonnell (with brothers Gene Barry’s Wes and 'rookie’ Robert Dix’s Chico in tow) rides into town looking to arrest one of Drummond’s crew. Sullivan is solidly impressive as the calm, uncompromising, at times blasé, enforcer – his two-handers with Stanwyck are full of understated tension – whilst (the normally dependable) Dean Jagger also does well as the conspiring local sheriff, Ned Logan.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mix a little bit of Johnny Guitar, a dash of My Darling Clementine, lasso in a whole lot of Sam Fuller fireworks, and you've got Forty Guns, one of the wildest and most exciting... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Valerie Gail bartlett
Of all the shrill, phallic, gun-crazy westerns of the fifties and sixties, this takes the prairie biscuit. Read morePublished on 30 May 2014 by KaleHawkwood
Opens with some glorious landscape shots and continues pleasingly, and surprisingly at times, in an inventive fashion. Read morePublished on 29 Mar. 2013 by Mario
The "High ridin' woman with a whip" is Barbara Stanwyck. Those forty guns belong to her twenty gunmen she uses as a posse to rule her county and her town. Read morePublished on 28 Oct. 2012 by C. O. DeRiemer