Forty Guns


Forty Guns (1957)



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Movie Info

This Sam Fuller western contains elements and production techniques that were to show up in spaghetti westerns of the '60s. Fuller's West was a violent, lawless place, lacking the moral grounding found in typical genre entries. Forty Guns was not well received by American film critics, but in Europe it is a revered work, particularly in France where Fuller has become a cult figure and is considered one of the most important and innovative of post WW II American filmmakers. The story centers on Barbara Stanwyck who plays a powerful female landowner who basically runs an entire Arizona county with an iron fist. Her decrees are enforced by a small army of cowboy henchmen and she meets with little opposition from the willow-spined sheriff and the terrorized residents. Things go just as she wants until a gunslinger-turned-pacifistic-US Marshal and his two brothers ride to town to usurp Stanwyck and her psychotic brother. Once there, one of the brothers falls in love with the lovely town gunsmith. Their wedding day is destroyed when Stanwyck's brother shoots the groom, causing the Marshal to forsake his vow to never again use his gun.


Barbara Stanwyck
as Jessica Drummond
Barry Sullivan
as Griff Bonnell
Dean Jagger
as Sheriff Ned Logan
Gene Barry
as Wes Bonnell
John Ericson
as Brockie Drummond
Robert Dix
as Chico Bonnell
Jack 'Jidge' Carroll
as Barney Cashman
Jack "Judge" Carroll
as Bamey Cashman
Gerald Milton
as Shotgun Spangler
Eve Brent Ashe
as Louvenia Spangler
Hank Worden
as John Chisum
Chuck Roberson
as Howard Swain
Chuck Hayward
as Charlie Savage
Sandra Wirth
as Chico's Girl
Paul Dubov
as Judge Macey
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Critic Reviews for Forty Guns

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (1)

Offers the anticipated measures of doomed love and sudden death but surprises with its dramatic richness.

Feb 16, 2015 | Full Review…

It's clear that the double entendres will continue to fly at a fast and furious pace in writer-director Samuel Fuller's rowdy Western saga.

Dec 22, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

An early example of genre revisionism, but the tone isn't always so serious thanks to some of the most overt innuendo ever put on screen.

Jul 6, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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.

Feb 1, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Here is Sam Fuller in top gear, as writer, director and producer, with a Western that is solidly crafted and brilliantly cast. Barbara Stanwyck is at her peak, although her peak lasted decades

Sep 18, 2008 | Full Review…

... sexual energy and psychotic violence that explodes onscreen in staccato editing, darting camerawork, and the maddest expressions of love this side of Duel in the Sun.

Jul 5, 2005 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Forty Guns

Great western with some really nice unexpected twists. Love that gun barrel shot. Looks like Sam Fuller beat James Bond to the punch.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

Although the story didn't really appeal to me, I liked how it was filmed. The shots were diverse and creative, it reminded me a little of Hitchcock's way of filming sometimes. I wish Barbara had a bigger part in it, I can't get enough of this woman. She has a very powerful appearance, that never fails to captivate me.

Saskia D.
Saskia D.

Super Reviewer

One wacky-doodlely Freudian Western. "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 only a woman after all." "Get a doctor. She'll live."

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

"She's a high-riding woman with a whip" The idea of Barbara Stanwyck galloping around the prairie in a stetson, cracking a whip, is disappointingly underplayed in Forty Guns. Also the potential Freudian and feminist elements are never explored past the surface (though the two female stars are as spunky as the men are handsome, Jessica Drummond is only waiting for a man to take charge!) - see the superbly over the top 'Johnny Guitar' if you really want any kind of subtext or depth. It's still entertaining and campy enough though to make the already short running time whiz by quick enough. Stanwyck is always never less than watchable and Barry Sullivan's rugged presence does the job it's intended. The dialogue is sparky if a little ropey "I've never kissed a gunsmith before" "I need a strong man to carry out my orders... And a weak one to take them". And the visual effects are a bit of a treat - a big close-up of Sullivan's eyes, during a shoot-out, only serves to diminish the expected dramatic affect as it causes us to titter. As does the scene when the burgeoning lovers spy each other lovingly through the barrel of a gun! But the absolute highlight here is the two songs - both of which are unexpectedly and quite spectacularly sung IN character! The Woman With a Whip number is especially ripe as it's sung by one of the male leads as his mates watch on, smiling nonchalantly, as they soap themselves in their bath-tubs!? The other song, sung as a funeral rite, initially startled and surprised me in it's bravado of having a man sing a love song where the object of desire is another man! Until you realise the 'he' he is singing about is God... Damn! Still, the queer seeds are there for us to pick up on! All this (vaguely homoerotic) campery had me thinking... Forty Guns is maybe only two songs shy of an all-out musical! Now THAT would have been a lot more intriguing.

William Sleet
William Sleet

Super Reviewer

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