October 25, 2011

In Your Face!

"Hi sailor"
One of the films on my must-see list has always been Sam Fuller’s revisionist western FORTY GUNS with Barbara “The Whip” Stanwyck. A brand new print surfaced a few years ago at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, the second Cinema used to run prints for the American Cinematheque this season.

FORTY GUNS was presented by director Guy Maddin, who cited the western as a major influence on him as a youth living in Canada. Also present at the screening was actor Gene Barry and his noisy wife. Barry had a secondary role in the film and, as it turned out, had not seen it since it was made! Camp David’s editor was seated in front of the pair during the screening and has this to report: GB’s wife kept a running commentary of the film in spite of several patrons telling her to please respect the fact that others were trying to watch the film and reminding her that they were not at home in front of their own ‘Big Screen’. Mrs. Barry could have cared less and made sure her hubby was aware just how sexy she thought he was in FORTY GUNS at every opportunity, saying out loud “Oh, Gene you are such a stud!… Oh Gene you are really so handsome!” Bear in mind that Mr. Barry is now in his 70’s,with his basic animal husbandry well behind him. She had to keep Gene abreast of the action as his attention span ended when he wasn’t on screen.

At one point early in the proceedings Barry asked how much his wife paid for the junior mints and when she replied $3.50 Gene yelled “Don’t they know who I am?” Never did he comment on any of the other actors except one, whom he reminded his wife he put in the film and kept him working as the years wore on. Midway through the film his character dies, and at that point Mrs. Barry exclaimed, “Oh Gene, there goes the film!” I had always been told Gene Barry was a Prima Donna and he did not disappoint, nor did his number one fan, the ever-present Mrs. B!

Fortunately the same can also be said for FORTY GUNS, which contains the scene in which Barry Sullivan offers his gun to Stanwyck as she asks, “Can I hold it?” Without missing a beat Sullivan replies “Careful it might go off in your face!” Now that’s a Western if you ask me!!!

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