“I wanted Forty Guns to be a different kind of Western, as good as the trail-blazing movies that had inspired me: King Vidor’s Duel in the Sun, Anthony Mann’s The Furies and Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar,” Fuller modestly comments about his equally daring attack on the stylistic and narrative rules of a genre considered as sacred in the USA as the family silver. On their way to California, a former sheriff and renowned gun named Griff (Barry Sullivan) and his two brothers wind up in Dodge where they find themselves on the wrong side of rancher Jessica Drummond (Barbara Stanwyck) and her forty hired men. The anger Griff incurs from the imperious woman after forcefully pacifying her violent younger brother Brock gradually changes into affection, and Griff returns it. But Brock’s wounded pride provokes the men to once again take up arms and the results are deadly. Fuller’s subversive tinkering with the mythology of the Western (a gunfighter traumatized by guns, the sacred attributes of the genre referenced by ironic sexual innuendos) and the punchy visuals (the radical use of close-ups next to long tracking shots that are now legendary) met with enthusiastic acceptance mainly among European critics and directors (Godard, Leone). –KVIFF
Noted for his tabloid-influenced storytelling style, breathless camera work, and extreme close-ups, Fuller was a pugnacious, tough-as-nails man whose movies reflect a uniquely personal vision; obsessed with themes of falsehood and deception, his films illuminated the cultural divisions at the heart of American society, depicting a grim, immoral world far removed from the placid surface typically on display in more mainstream fare. Celebrated as a genius by his fans, and denounced as a sensationalist by his detractors, Fuller was a deeply patriotic man quick to criticize his country’s flaws, as well as a raw, anarchic filmmaker capable of moments of inexpressible beauty; such contradictions fueled and ultimately defined both him and his body of work, which continues to exert tremendous influence over such prominent filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Jim Jarmusch. Samuel Michael Fuller was born August 12, 1912, in Worcester, MA, and raised in New York City; at the age… read more
ok so it's been established that barbara is the hardest bitch in the state and then 45 min into the film she needs to be saved and then she lets her empire deteriorate for luv and then she needs to be saved again? bad case of queen christina syndrome
Sitting astride a white horse all dressed in black, the commanding Stanwyck is the high ridin' woman with a whip in this unique western. Shot extremely quickly in little over a week, what we have here is an exemplary B-movie with Fuller pulling out all the stops and putting on the style. Throughout the film the tone shifts from rough and tough to reflective and melancholic in the blink of an eye. Absolutely mesmeric.
“A serious book about a serious woman.”