Forty Guns (1957)

Sam Fuller is one of those acknowledged greats with whom I must admit to only a casual familiarity. I’ve filled a bit more of that gap with this 1957 western, larded with that slight overripeness I’ve always been under the impression was Fuller’s general mode of expression. The titular guns are those slung by the small army Barbara Stanwyck has built up around her in the course of becoming the virtual queen of her domain, and yet the film seems to show her as having not a great deal of real control over her dominion (particularly that little brother of hers), and when a US marshall and his two brothers come to town to execute a warrant. Things become complicated both by her growing attraction to him and baby brother’s determination to wipe him out. Aside from an unexpected bit of end-of-the-old-West ruminating (unexpected in that I didn’t think that sort of thing really began until the 60s once the classical Western age was at its end), Fuller keeps things steaming along in good pulp style, but with an added layer of heat to the melodrama that gives it more flavour, loads it with nice b/w ‘Scope visuals, and does it all in just 80 minutes. I enjoyed this a hell of a lot.

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