Entertainment » Movies

Forty Guns

by Greg Vellante
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Jan 10, 2019
Forty Guns

Writer/Director Samuel Fuller built an eclectic career on genre work and sweeping archetypes, and the western opus "Forty Guns" is one of his best. New to the Criterion Collection, the 1957 film stars Hollywood legend Barbara Stanwyck as a rebellious rancher named Jessica Drummond, who helms a posse of 40 riders who help her control the area of Cochise County, AZ. In watching the character's boisterous and unapologetic spirit displayed by Stanwyck on screen, I wondered to myself if Quentin Tarantino's Daisy Domergue (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) from 2015's "The Hateful Eight" was inspired by Stanwyck's character (Tarantino is a self-professed Fuller fanatic).

Regardless of Tarantino specifically, "Forty Guns" was indubitably an influence on so many films that followed. Its filmmaking is superb, its performances golden, its emotions strong and its set pieces extraordinary. There is a dust storm sequence that makes this film worthy of your purchase on its merits alone. With pulpy, innuendo-filled dialogue and sharpshooting cinematography in glorious black and white CinemaScope, this movie is an absolute delight. Until it's not, of course, because Fuller still manages to penetrate his frames with occasional bursts of immorality and tragedy.

Bonus features on this new Criterion release include an array of options. For starters, the new 4K digital restoration is stunning, as is the uncompressed monaural soundtrack (Blu-ray only). The surplus material also includes a feature-length documentary, 2013's "A Fuller Life," which was made by Fuller's daughter, Samantha Fuller. It includes interviews with filmmakers like William Friedkin, Wim Wenders and Monte Hellman, as well as actors like Jennifer Beals, James Franco, Mark Hamill, Bill Duke and Constance Towers. Other bonus features include:

• New interview with director Samuel Fuller's widow, Christa Lang Fuller, and daughter, Samantha Fuller
• Audio interview with Samuel Fuller at London's National Film Theatre from 1969
• New interview with critic Imogen Sara Smith, author of "In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City"
• Stills gallery
• An essay by film scholar Lisa Dombrowski and a chapter from Fuller's posthumously published 2002 autobiography, "A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting, and Filmmaking"

"Forty Guns"
Criterion Collection Blu-ray


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