Johnny Got His Gun (film)

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Johnny Got His Gun
Johnny Got His Gun poster.jpg
Original theatrical poster
Directed by Dalton Trumbo
Produced byBruce Campbell
Screenplay byDalton Trumbo
Based on Johnny Got His Gun
by Dalton Trumbo
Starring
Music by Jerry Fielding
CinematographyJules Brenner
Edited byMillie Moore
Production
company
World Entertainment
Distributed by Cinemation Industries
Release date
  • May 14, 1971 (1971-05-14)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$500,000+ [1]

Johnny Got His Gun is a 1971 American drama anti-war film written and directed by Dalton Trumbo based on his novel of the same name, and starring Timothy Bottoms, Kathy Fields, Marsha Hunt, Jason Robards, Donald Sutherland and Diane Varsi. It was based on the novel of the same title by Trumbo, and features an uncredited writing collaboration by Luis Buñuel. The film was released on DVD in the U.S on April 28, 2009 via Shout! Factory, with special features.

Dalton Trumbo American screenwriter and novelist

James Dalton Trumbo was an American screenwriter and novelist who scripted many award-winning films including Roman Holiday, Exodus, Spartacus, and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. One of the Hollywood Ten, he refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 during the committee's investigation of Communist influences in the motion picture industry. He, along with the other members of the Hollywood Ten and hundreds of other industry professionals, was subsequently blacklisted by that industry.

<i>Johnny Got His Gun</i> book by Dalton Trumbo

Johnny Got His Gun is an anti-war novel written in 1938 by American novelist, and later blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, and published in September 1939 by J. B. Lippincott. The novel won one of the early National Book Awards: the Most Original Book of 1939. A 1971 film adaptation was written for the screen and directed by Trumbo himself.

Timothy James Bottoms is an American actor and film producer. He is best known for playing the lead in Johnny Got His Gun, Sonny Crawford in The Last Picture Show where he and his fellow co-stars, Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges, rose to fame; as James Hart, the first-year law student who battles with Prof. Kingsfield, in the film adaptation The Paper Chase, and for playing President George W. Bush multiple times, including on the sitcom That's My Bush! and in the comedy film The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course and the docudrama DC 9/11: Time of Crisis.

Contents

Although Johnny Got His Gun was a minor success at the time of its release, it was largely forgotten soon after by mass audiences. The film became far better known when it was incorporated in the video of Metallica's song "One", whose popularity subsequently turned Johnny Got His Gun into a cult film. Eventually, the members of Metallica bought the rights to the film in order to keep showing the music video without having to pay additional royalty fees. [2]

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

One (Metallica song) 1989 single by Metallica

"One" is a song by American heavy metal band Metallica. It was released as the third and final single from their fourth studio album, ...And Justice for All (1988). Written by band members James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, "One" is an anti-war song that portrays a World War I soldier who is severely wounded  —  arms and legs blown off by a landmine, blind and unable to speak or move  —  begging God to take his life as he feels constant pain. His only hope is to devise a way to communicate with the hospital staff. In the music video, he jolts in the hospital bed, spelling "Kill me" in Morse code. Production of the song was done by the band alongside Flemming Rasmussen. The song was the band's first top 40 hit single in the U.S., reaching number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a number one hit in Finland.

Cult film film that has acquired a cult following

A cult film or cult movie, also commonly referred to as a cult classic, is a film that has acquired a cult following. Cult films are known for their dedicated, passionate fanbase, an elaborate subculture that engage in repeated viewings, quoting dialogue, and audience participation. Inclusive definitions allow for major studio productions, especially box office bombs, while exclusive definitions focus more on obscure, transgressive films shunned by the mainstream. The difficulty in defining the term and subjectivity of what qualifies as a cult film mirror classificatory disputes about art. The term cult film itself was first used in the 1970s to describe the culture that surrounded underground films and midnight movies, though cult was in common use in film analysis for decades prior to that.

Plot

Joe Bonham (Bottoms), a young American soldier hit by an artillery shell during World War I, lies in a hospital bed. He is a quadruple amputee who has also lost his eyes, ears, mouth and nose. He remains conscious and able to reason, but his wounds render him a prisoner in his own body. As he drifts between reality and fantasy, he remembers his old life with his family and girlfriend (Kathy Fields). He also forms a bond, of sorts, with a young nurse (Diane Varsi) who senses his plight.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Fantasy (psychology) imagined situation as used in psychology

Fantasy in a psychological sense refers to two different possible aspects of the mind, the conscious, and the unconscious.

Kathy Fields is an American actress and photographer. Her most notable acting role was as the lead character's girlfriend in the 1971 film Johnny Got His Gun, a performance that included a then-unusual nude scene. She later became a professional photographer.

Eventually, Joe tries to communicate to his doctors, via Morse code by tapping his head, saying "help." He wishes for the US Army to put him in a glass coffin in a freak show as a demonstration of the horrors of war. When told that his wish may be impossible to grant, he responds begging to be euthanized, repeatedly saying "kill me."

Morse code Transmission of language with brief pulses

Morse code is a character encoding scheme used in telecommunication that encodes text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations called dots and dashes or dits and dahs. Morse code is named for Samuel F. B. Morse, an inventor of the telegraph.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Freak show

A freak show is an exhibition of biological rarities, referred to in popular culture as "freaks of nature". Typical features would be physically unusual humans, such as those uncommonly large or small, those with both male and female secondary sexual characteristics, those with extraordinary diseases and conditions, and others with performances expected to be shocking to viewers. Heavily tattooed or pierced people have sometimes been seen in freak shows, as have attention-getting physical performers such as fire-eating and sword-swallowing acts.

He ultimately realizes that the Army can grant neither wish, and will leave him in a state of living death. His sympathetic nurse attempts to euthanize him by clamping his breathing tube, but her supervisor stops her before Joe can succumb. Joe realizes that he will never be released from his state of entrapment and he is left alone, weakly chanting, "S.O.S. Help me."

<span style="text-decoration:overline;">SOS</span> international Morse code distress signal (· · · – – – · · ·)

SOS is the International Morse code distress signal ; the overscore indicates that the normal gaps between the letters should be omitted. It is used as a start-of-message mark for transmissions requesting help when loss of life or catastrophic loss of property is imminent. Other prefixes are assigned for mechanical breakdowns, requests for medical assistance, and a relayed distress signal originally sent by another station.

Cast

Marsha Hunt (actress, born 1917) American film, theater, and television actress

Marsha Hunt is a retired American actress, model, and activist, with a career spanning over 70 years. She was blacklisted by Hollywood film studio executives in the 1950s during McCarthyism.

Jason Robards American actor

Jason Nelson Robards Jr. was an American stage, film, and television actor. He was a winner of a Tony Award, two Academy Awards and an Emmy Award. He was also a United States Navy combat veteran of World War II.

Donald Sutherland Canadian actor

Donald McNichol Sutherland is a Canadian actor whose film career spans more than five decades.

Production

The film distinguishes between Joe's reality and fantasy with black-and-white for the hospital, and color for his dreams and memories. His dreams are drug-induced, as when he talks to his dead father and Jesus Christ, with the color being saturated. His memories are in a clearer color, such as the fishing trip and his last night with Kareen. Joe's injuries are never seen in the hospital scenes; his face is covered by a mask and his body by the hospital sheets.

Reception

The film was entered into the 1971 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury and the FIPRESCI Prize. [3] The film currently has a 70% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Legacy

In 1988, the heavy metal band Metallica released the song "One" and used clips from the film in the song's music video.

In the 2008 remake, actor Benjamin McKenzie performed as Joe Bonham in the "live on stage, on film" version of the 1982 Off-Broadway play based on the novel. [4] In October 2010, a special educational DVD of the 2008 film version starring McKenzie became available free of charge to every high school library in the U.S. The educational DVD contains both a pre-screening and post-screening discussion guide for students in addition to a 15-minute featurette on the making of the film, the original movie's theatrical trailer, and a history of the original novel.[ citation needed ]

In early 2009, the 1971 film made its U.S. DVD debut, produced by Shout! Factory. The DVD included the film plus a 2005 documentary (Dalton Trumbo: Rebel In Hollywood), new cast interviews, an article about the film from American Cinematographer, Metallica's music video "One," behind-the-scenes footage with commentary by stars Timothy Bottoms and Jules Brenner, the 1940 radio adaptation starring James Cagney, and the original theatrical trailer. However, it contains some brief edits, because a European print was used for the video source.

A TV film of the same name was made in Czechoslovakia in 1984. [5]

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References

  1. New York Times Interview with Dalton Trumbo
  2. Ryan, James (February 3, 2016). "FANTASIA OBSCURA: How the Real-Life 'Trumbo' Influenced... Metallica?". RebeatMag.com. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  3. "Festival de Cannes: Johnny Got His Gun". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved April 12, 2009.
  4. Variety review of the "live on stage, on film" version of Johnny Got His Gun
  5. Johnny si vzal pušku (TV movie) FDb.cz (in Czech)