Commentary on Movies and TV by Brian Holcomb

Sunday, September 06, 2009

FORTY GUNS Film Review

by Brian Holcomb

"She’s a high ridin’ woman with a whip . . . But if someone could break her and take her whip away, someone big, someone strong, someone tall, you may find that the woman with a whip is only a woman after all."

This is the kind of film that you watch with your jaw hanging down. If the internet was around at the time, some of the reviews would say, "WTF?" Ostensibly just another western from Daryl F. Zanuck's 20th Century Fox stables, this was really the latest entry in the "Sam Fuller is crazy as all hell" genre. While the visual style is reminiscent of My Darling Clementine, the film can be seen as a precursor to the feminine histrionics of Johnny Guitar. It's completely obsessed with sex and none of it is really under the surface. Dialogue is completely surreal on the order of David Lynch or Russ Meyer. At the end when Brocky is shot he lets us know how bad it is as he dies by declaring, "I'm killed, Mr. Bonnell, I'm killed". It's like something from a Shakespearian tragedy.

Filled with shock effects designed to call attention to itself, it's a New Hollywood kind of movie made decades before it became "new". Fuller's comic book world is a complete artistic creation, a place where men were MEN and women could take a bullet now and then. Hugely influential on the later work of Sergio Leone as you might tell from the following image:


1 comment:

Unknown said...

It is a fine film but it is not a predecessor to Johnny Guitar, which came out in 1954.