From its opening scene of Jessica Drummond's (Barbra Stanwyck) forty mounted henchmen thundering across the western landscape to the decidedly unconventional gunfight that concludes it, Forty Guns is a Samuel Fuller film all the way. Never content to respect the laws of a genre, Fuller pumps his yarn full of borderline corny melodrama and blatant sexual innuendo ("Are you still interested in my gun," Barry Sullivan's Griff asks Jessica as they snuggle in an abandoned cabin. And that's just one of many examples.) Like Nicholas Ray's Johnny Guitar, Forty Guns uses the Western as a vehicle for the maverick artistic impulses of its one-of-a-kind director. One of only two Westerns directed by Fuller (the other was his even more bizarre debut feature I Shot Jesse James, which went so far as to imply a dysfunctional homoerotic relationship between James and his assassin, Robert Ford), Forty Guns is, like many of his films, a strange cross between a guilty pleasure and a great piece of cinematic art.
by Tom Vick review