Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Forty Guns (1957)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Forty Guns (1957)

In maverick director Sam Fuller's unusually weird, stylistic, unorthodox b/w widescreen B-western with Freudian overtones and a kinky love theme: "High Ridin' Woman (With a Whip)":

  • the character of ruthless, whip-wielding, powerful Arizona cattle-queen rancher and landowner Jessica Drummond (Barbara Stanwyck) with black skin-tight 'Zorro'-like outfits and riding on a white stallion, and usually accompanied by an armed posse of '40 guns' ("forty dragoons") serving as enforcers - riding after her or joining her at an elongated dinner table
  • the arrival of three Bonell brothers in Cochise County, Tombstone, Arizona to clean up the town and establish law and order: (1) tough but reformed, non-violent ex-US marshal/gunslinger Griff Bonell (Barry Sullivan), (2) Wes Bonell (Gene Barry), and (3) Chico Bonell (Robert Dix)
  • the remarkable scene of Griff marching up Tombstone's main street to confront armed, bullying and drunken troublemaker Brockie Drummond (John Ericson), Jessica's brother - and with his cold stare he hypnotized Brockie so that he could pistol-whip him to the ground
  • the film's innuendo-laden sexual dialogue of Griff's brother Wes, who remarked about the town gunsmith's busty blonde daughter Louvenia Spanger (Eve Brent): "She even looks good in overalls...Built like a 40-40. I'd like to stay around long enough to clean her rifle"
  • the scene of Wes (just before becoming the town's new Marshal) flirting with Louvenia in the gunsmith shop (he blatantly stroked a rifle butt as she took his measurements for a gun order): (Wes: "How long will it take to make this rifle for me?" Louvenia: "A long time. You'd have to come in every day for a fittin'."); then he took another gun and romantically stared at her - down the gun's bore: ("This is pretty good work, never saw any better. Yeah, this kind of rifle's worth hangin' around for") - and then kissed her: Wes: "I never kissed a gunsmith before." Louvenia: "Any recoil?"
Wes' View of Louvenia Through a Gun's Bore
Wes Falling in Love With Louvenia
  • the scene of Griff giving a smirking warning when Jessica asked to feel his gun for curiosity's sake: "It might go off in your face" - and her reply: "I'll take a chance" - and her obvious sexual stroking of his gun for a few moments
  • the tornado scene with Jessica dragged behind her horse
  • the scenes of Wes' love affair with Louvenia - leading up to their joyous wedding; after the ceremony as their picture was being taken outside the church, Wes leaned in to kiss his new bride, when Brockie (on horseback nearby) shot and killed the groom (he was aiming at Griff and missed); he collapsed dead into her arms, and they fell to the ground together; thenceforth, Griff vengefully gave up his 10-year vow to never again use his gun
  • the finale in which Jessica was cruelly held captive hostage and used as a shield by her crazy psychotic brother Brockie who was in the midst of an attempted escape from jail; Brockie dared Griff Bonell to shoot - and he did! Brockie was fired upon by Griff - Jessica was wounded, while Brockie was cold-bloodedly murdered with multiple shots (as Brockie cried out: "Mr. Bonell, I'm killed!") - afterwards, Griff delivered a cold assessment for Jessica as he strolled by: "Get a doctor. She'll live"
Brockie Using Jessica as a Shield
Griff: "Get a doctor. She'll live"
  • in the short conclusion, the third Bonell brother Chico took over the City Marshal duties; Jessica (who was recovering in the town's hotel from the shootout) apologized to the widowed Louvenia: ("There's nothing I can do or say or pray for that will bring him back to you. It's very hard to forget the man you love. I know. You have one thing in your favor, Mrs. Bonell. Youth"); as Griff prepared to ride out of town on a buckboard to California, he was convinced that Jessica would never want him for killing her brother ("I'll never have her because she won't have me"); however, from the other end of the dirt street, Jessica appeared unexpectedly - she ran after the buckboard, appealing: "Griff! Griff! Mr. Bonell! Griff! Griff! Griff! Mr. Bonell!" - and in a distant shot, she hopped on; the final sequence was accompanied by the western's theme song - about the tamed whip-wielding female: "...When she rides and the wind is in her hair, she has eyes full of life, full of fire, But if someone could break her and take her whip away, someone big, someone strong, someone tall, you may find that the woman with a whip is only a woman after all"

The Impressive Posse of '40 Guns'

Griff Pistol-Whipping Troublemaker Brockie to the Ground

Jessica Stroking Griff's Gun

Jessica Dragged Behind Horse

Wedding of Wes and Louvenia

Wes Shot to Death

Jessica Running After Griff's Buckboard to California


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