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Thread: "Johnny Got His Gun" finally getting released on DVD.

  1. "Johnny Got His Gun" finally getting released on DVD.

    Hailed by some as an anti-war classic, 1971’s “Johnny Got His Gun” is finally on DVD.

    The sole film directed by the great screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (and based on his award-winning 1938 novel), “Johnny” follows Joe Bonham (Timothy Bottoms), an American doughboy who emerges from the Great War a shell — armless, legless, faceless, blind and deaf.

    The Army M.D.s pronounce Joe brain dead and keep him alive as an experiment, but inside he’s alert. He relives moments from his young life and takes imaginary journeys. Finally Joe is able to communicate by tapping out a Morse Code message with his head:
    “Kill me.”

    “Johnny” is a gut-wrenching novel. But this is a first-timer’s film, heavy-handed and aggressively artsy. Trumbo’s dream sequences echo those of Fellini and Bunuel but feel amateurish. Donald Sutherland is cringe-worthy as a long-haired Jesus. Joe’s memories of his parents (Jason Robards, Marsha Hunt) and girlfriend (Kathy Fields) aspire to an “Our Town” universality, but every emotion feels forced.

    Still, the story behind the film is compelling (and nicely laid out in an hourlong doc that is an extra).

    During the ’30s and ’40s Trumbo was Hollywood’s premier writer, scripting hits like “A Bill of Divorcement,” “Kitty Foyle,” “A Guy Named Joe” and “30 Seconds Over Tokyo.”

    As a novel, “Johnny” was a huge best-seller and in 1940 became a radio drama starring James Cagney. (That broadcast is included here; it’s far superior to the movie.)

    Trumbo was one of the Hollywood 10, uncooperative witnesses called before Congress during the Communist “witch hunt” of the early ’50s. He spent nine months in prison and was blacklisted, which prevented producers from hiring him.

    Under fake names, Trumbo won two screenwriting Oscars, for “Roman Holiday” (’53) and “The Brave One” (’56). The blacklist was broken in 1960 when Kirk Douglas and Stanley Kubrick announced that Trumbo was scripting “Spartacus.”

    Riding a wave of anti-war sentiment (Americans were dying in Vietnam), Trumbo made “Johnny,” but it performed poorly. He died in 1976.
    But the story continues.
    “Johnny” became a stage play in 1982; Jeff Daniels played Joe in the original off-Broadway run.

    Members of the heavy metal band Metallica fell in love with Trumbo’s film and wrote the hit song “One” about the fictional Joe Bonham. Their 1989 music video incorporated footage from the movie, thus introducing it to a whole new audience. (That video is part of this package.)

    As I said … even so-so movies often have great stories behind them.
    It's about time. I've been searching for this film for well over a decade.

    Donald Sutherland as Jesus.
    Last edited by gamevet; 14 May 2009 at 09:56 AM.

  2. Sounds like I'll be buying this more for the extras than the actual movie.

  3. Its a really shitty movie. Its too bad because the story behind it is so compelling.
    “The very existence of flame-throwers proves that some time, somewhere, someone said to themselves, you know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done.” -George Carlin

  4. #5
    I like that Lars doesn't even bother with the double kick anymore. Worst drummer ever.

  5. Have you met Josh trying to drum?

  6. #7
    I'd say I'm faster with a double kick than that old fucker.

  7. just read the book... it's way better than the movie.
    look here, upon a sig graveyard.

  8. #9
    I watched the movie on IFC (or Sundance) a long time ago. I don't remember it being horrible but yeah, do yourself a favor and pick up that book. It's incredible.
    "Chuy, you're going to have a magical life. Because no matter where you go, it's always going to be better than Tucson."

  9. I saw the book at "Half Price Books" in the clearance bin. I don't know why I didn't buy it, since it was only a $1.


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