Music Box Theatre – 3733 N. Southport Ave.
General Admission: $10 • Advance Tickets Here
Monday, December 10 @ 7:00 PM
Directed by Samuel Fuller • 1957
As budgets and screens swelled in tandem in the 1950s, bread-and-butter genre pictures like musicals and westerns became bigger, louder, and safer. The exception that proves the rule: Samuel Fuller’s Forty Guns, a propulsive, devil-may-care Western shot in black-and-white Cinemascope in two weeks, complete with Jidge Carroll singing the ballad of “The Woman with the Whip” to a gaggle of men bathing in a sagebrush spa. Barbara Stanwyck stars as Jessica Drummond, the Tombstone titan who commands as many thieves as Ali Baba. Her central conflict—protecting her ne’er-do-well brother (John Ericson) or giving it all up for the ex-gunslinger she comes to love (Barry Sullivan)—may sound rote, but the execution and emotional nuance are anything but. The overall attitude owes something to other proto-feminist westerns of the era, such as The Woman They Almost Lynched and Johnny Guitar, but the melancholy/mercenary savoir faire is specifically, spectacularly Stanwyck. As an independent producer contracted with 20th Century-Fox, Fuller enjoyed an unusual degree of creative freedom, staging elaborate dolly-shot excavations of Tombstone storefronts with a gusto that any studio chief would’ve found alarming. Still, Fuller’s experience was not without some compromise; as he complained in his posthumous autobiography, “For Chrissakes, my gunman had to think about box office receipts before pulling the trigger.” (KW)
80 min • Globe Enterprises • 35mm from 20th Century Fox
Cartoon: “Wild and Woolfy” (Tex Avery, 1945) – 8 min – 16mm