7.0/10
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Forty Guns (1957)

Not Rated | | Romance, Western | September 1957 (USA)
Showdown in Arizona between the Bonnell brothers, U.S.Marshals, and Jessica Drummond, the iron-fist rancher who controls the territory.

Director:

Samuel Fuller

Writer:

Samuel Fuller
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Barbara Stanwyck ... Jessica Drummond
Barry Sullivan ... Griff Bonell
Dean Jagger ... Sheriff Ned Logan
John Ericson ... Brockie Drummond
Gene Barry ... Wes Bonell
Robert Dix ... Chico Bonell
Jidge Carroll Jidge Carroll ... Barney Cashman
Paul Dubov ... Judge Macy
Gerald Milton Gerald Milton ... Shotgun Spanger
Ziva Rodann ... Rio
Hank Worden ... Marshal John Chisum
Neyle Morrow ... Wiley
Chuck Roberson ... Howard Swain
Chuck Hayward ... Charlie Savage
Sandy Wirth Sandy Wirth ... Chico's Girlfriend (as Sandra Wirth)
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Storyline

An authoritarian rancher, Barbara Stanwyck, who rules an Arizona county with her private posse of hired guns. When a new marshall arrives to set things straight, the cattle queen finds herself falling, brutally for the avowedly non-violent lawman. Both have itchy-fingered brothers, a female gunmaker enters the picture, and things go desperately wrong. Written by Tamsin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Taming of the Arizona Territory !

Genres:

Romance | Western

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Barbara Stanwyck's stunt woman refused to allow herself to be dragged along a street by a horse, saying that it was too dangerous. Without further ado Stanwyck did it by herself. She got some bruises and scrapes, but was okay. At that time Stanwyck was 49 years old. See more »

Goofs

When the gunsmith is fitting Wes for a new rifle, she had him holding the stock from a model 1898 Mauser which would not have been invented for another 20 years. Then Wes also picks up a Winchester barreled action and looks through it to see the lady gunsmith, which is not possible due to there being no straight line of sight through the action. See more »

Quotes

Griff Bonnell: [on being offered her foreman's job] Why me?
Jessica Drummond: I need a strong man to carry out my orders.
Griff Bonnell: And a weak man to take them.
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Connections

Referenced in Breathless (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

God Has His Arms Around Me
by Victor Young and Harold Adamson
Sung by Jidge Carroll
See more »

User Reviews

 
A visual stunner, a confusing pastiche of archetypes, a film for film lovers
27 December 2012 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Forty Guns (1957)

Sam Fuller's style is uncompromising and over the top. He pushes both melodrama and visual drama. And he's also extremely astute handling the actors and the space and light they move through. His movies are definitely experiences, from "The Naked Kiss" to "The Big Red One" all the way back to the masterpiece, "Pickup on South Street."

And he usually tells a strong clear story. That's the big weakness here. It's as if all the over-sized elements, including Barbara Stanwyck as this unlikely woman power queen frontier figure with forty men at her beck and call, are juggled around enough to keep it interesting just on their own. Not only will the progress of events be sometimes confusing, it will at times also be too unlikely to hold water, which is even worse.

Not that the movie isn't a thrill to watch. I mean watch, with your eyes. The sparkling widescreen photography is so good, so very good and original, you can't help but like that part of it. In a way that's sustaining--it's what kept me glued. But that's my thing. I'm a photographer. I love the physical structure of movies. This movie was made for me. It's made to be studied.

And that's what "Forty Guns" is famous for, an over-sized influence. The French writers of the time (like Godard) and some later American upstarts (like Tarantino) have praised the filmmaking, if not always the film. You can certainly see, and appreciate, how much a movie like this foreshadowed the spaghetti westerns which have become so famous, but which were made six and more years later.

And that's worth remembering, too. Westerns, as a genre, are well worn by now. The themes have been worked and overworked. To make a new fresh western means pushing it to some limit, and for Fuller that means a soap opera exaggeration. That means galloping horses endlessly around a waiting stagecoach as the horses jump in fear. That means a man walking up to his rival and walking and walking, far longer than it would take to cover the hundred yards shown, until reaching him and punching, not shooting him. It means a final glorious scene that is shown farther and farther in the distance and all you see are two little dots as figures--and yet you know what just happened, and how satisfying that is.

And how unreasonable the events were getting us to that point. "Forty Guns" plays loose with archetypes in a pre-post-modern way that has made it weirdly contemporary. Fuller's films, like his unlikely contemporary Douglas Sirk's, have taken on a life of their own, as flawed as they are. This may not be the best place to start to love his work, but it's a good place to start to understand where movies had gotten to--some would say fallen--by the late 1950s. Check it out.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

September 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Woman with a Whip See more »

Filming Locations:

Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$300,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,344
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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