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Forty Guns

Forty Guns
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Produced by Jules Schermer
Written by Samuel Fuller
Starring Barbara Stanwyck
Barry Sullivan
Gene Barry
Music by Harry Sukman
Cinematography Joseph F. Biroc
Edited by Gene Fowler Jr.
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 5, 1958 (1958-12-05) (U.S.)
Running time
79 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $300,000[1]

Forty Guns is a 1957 gothic western film written and directed by Samuel Fuller, filmed in black-and-white CinemaScope and released by the 20th Century Fox studio. The film stars Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan and Gene Barry.


In the 1880s, Griff Bonnell and his brothers Wes and Chico arrive in the town of Tombstone in Cochise County, Arizona.[2] Griff is a reformed gunslinger, now working for the Attorney General's office, looking to arrest Howard Swain for mail robbery.

Swain is one of landowner Jessica Drummond's forty hired guns. She runs the territory with an iron fist, permitting the town to be terrorized and trashed by her brother, Brockie Drummond, and his boys. Brockie is an arrogant drunk and bully, but he goes too far by shooting vision-impaired town Marshal, Chisolm, in the leg. Thereupon, Brockie and his drunken friends start trashing the town.

Griff intervenes and pistol-whips Brockie with a single blow while Wes covers him with a rifle from the gunsmith shop. Aware of how close Brockie is to his sister, Griff makes it a point not to crack Brockie's. Jessica delivered Brockie when their mother gave birth for the last time.

Wes falls in love with Louvenie Spanger, the daughter of the town gunsmith, so he decides to settle down and become the town's marshal. Griff becomes romantically involved with Jessica after she is dragged by a horse during a tornado.

Two of Jessica's forty dragoons, Logan and Savage, attempt an ambush of Griff in an alley. He is saved by youngest brother Chico, who was supposed to be leaving for California for a new life on a farm. Chico's shot kills Savage, after which Jessica's brother and hired guns try to turn the town against the Bonnell brothers.

On his wedding day, Wes is gunned down by Brockie, who is really aiming at Griff (who leans forward to kiss the bride, thereby unknowingly saving himself). Brockie is jailed for the murder. He tries to escape by using his sister as a shield, daring Griff to shoot, and is shocked when Griff does exactly that. Griff's expertly-placed bullet merely wounds Jessica, and the cowardly Brockie then becomes the first man Griff has had to kill in ten years. Brockie's last words are "Mr. Bonnell, I'm killed!"

Chico remains behind to take the marshal's job. Griff rides out, certain that Jessica hates him for killing her brother, but she runs down the dirt street after his buckboard - repeatedly calling out "Griff! Mr. Bonnell!" - and they appear to ride off together for California.



Fuller uses every opportunity to show off the widescreen format while employing extensive use of close-ups and one of the longest tracking shots ever done at Fox’s studio at that time.


  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p251
  2. ^ Hughes, Howard (2007). Stagecoach to Tombstone: The Filmgoers' Guide to the Great Westerns. I. B. Tauris. p. 99. ISBN 1845115716. 

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