Studio: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 1957
U.S. Rating: NR
Canadian Rating: NR
Film Length: 79 minutes
Aspect Ratio:[*] Side A: 1.33:1 pan & scan[*] Side B: 2.35:1 enhanced widescreen
Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: US $11.98
SLP: CDN $16.98
Release Date: May 24, 2005
Film Rating: /
Starring: Barbara Stanwyck (Jessica Drummond), Barry Sullivan (Griff Bonnell), Dean Jagger (Sheriff Ned Logan), John Ericson (Brockie Drummond), Gene Barry (Wes Bonnell)
Directed by: Samuel Fuller
Written by: Samuel Fuller
When Arizona was still a territory, tough-girl Jessica Drummond rules over her county with an iron fist. With her forty thieves she spreads fear throughout the land that no one dares to question her rule, not even the sheriff of the local town. In their position of status and wealth, they are able to break the law without being punished for their crimes.
Out from the wilderness come Griff Bonnell and his two brothers. They are looking for peace on this part of the frontier but word has it that Griff is a quick gunslinger who never misses his target. After the town Marshall clearly is unable to do his job, Griff is quickly given his position but with a vow of non-violence. With his two brothers, they will try to implement law and order in the town again.
At first Griff is met with resistance from Jessica; but that quickly dissolves as she falls in love with him. He condemns the actions of her wild brother and she becomes torn between her family and Griff. The cut between them deepens as her brother becomes trigger happy and murders one of Griff’s brothers. Griff is determined to seek revenge and may break his vow of non-violence.
Light on character development, Forty Guns is a quick moving film with a running time of only 79 minutes. At times I felt like I wasn’t following the story exactly as I should have because some important scenes were vague in letting out information. It wasn’t only until at a later moment I was able to piece things together.
The movie has a tornado special effects sequence that seems a little longer than it should have been. It’s quite possible this scene was big for its time but given the short running time of the film I would have liked to see other scenes drawn out a little more. Still, this sequence introduces us the affection Jessica and Griff find in each other which becomes pivotal for the remainder of the story.
VIDEO QUALITY /
I am going to compare the quality of this black and white film to the quality of the FOX Studio Classics as well as the Film Noir series. In comparison, this 2.35:1 cinemascope film looks very good - but not quite as clean as some of the recent restorations I’ve seen. Very small specs on the film are consistent throughout most of the movie; they are never distracting but they are there. Compared to the theatrical trailer on this disc, this transfer looks like gold. Those of you viewing this film on a smaller monitor will probably not see them, but on my D110” screen they are noticeable. There are also some odd jumps between scene edits too. The film distorts a bit when it happens.
Contrast is pleasant but black levels can be completely crushed in the night time scenes making shadow detail hard to come by. The resolution of this DVD is very acceptable with only minor amounts of soft looking scenes. Someone has attempted to sharpen this movie up a bit because there is a slight amount of edge enhancement. I saw edge haloing throughout this movie, more so than I’ve seen with others. I know some haloing is due to equipment, bit on this title I noticed it a bit more so for now I will assume it’s actually on this disc. I will check again soon once I finally implement my HDMI setup so I can bypass all of these destructive D/A and A/D conversions on video.
AUDIO QUALITY /
The DVD’s jacket as well as all other press material I’ve seen provides incorrect audio information for this film. The only English options on this DVD are Dolby Digital 2.0 mono and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. There is no Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. If you want surround, you can take the fake stereo version and force it into surround on your audio processor. I don’t advise you to do that.
Stay with the mono version of the film because it sounds the roundest and most focused of course, just as it should. Sound effects sound very limited in range compared to other movies of this era and is occasionally peaked to distortion. Background hiss is almost inaudible.
Dialogue is the most disappointing aspect of this release. It sound very forward and detached from the actors. Dialogue most definitely was added on later because sync is off of the lips in a way that makes dialogue replacement recognizable.
SPECIAL FEATURES /
You will only find the theatrical trailer on this DVD. It is widescreen enhanced 2.35:1. Stills of posters of the film would be pretty cool to see.
IN THE END…
Forty Guns is an entertaining film that was once condemned in the U.S. for its bad handling of the narrative. While I thought Stanwyck’s acting left more to be desired, this is still a fun western filled with testosterone and shooting guns, and a little bit of love. So check out this “high riding woman with a whip.” You might even find yourself singing that song too…or not.