II,(OTION PICTTIRE

g@.,wi'i.w.n&Mrc;j.:

Ff,IDAY, JUIY

23, I97I

f,IVtItYr

Johnny Gat His Gun
Clnrmotlon
written by Dalton Trumbo from his own novel. ir perhaps one
"Johnny Got His Gun." produced by Bruce Campbell and directed and strongcsl anti-war statemenls yct to be filmed. Its subjeit *"rq and her9, a youthful war casualty left armless. leges-anA with norhing rGmaining of his head but a brain, are rhatteringiy gruosome and the reacliol of many audienccs wit! undoubti:dly be on-ebir.rulsion. But rhe fifi is far morc than a indictmeil of urar's horrors and cold military -searing expedicncy: bcyond its piopagandistic thesis. ir is a powerful chronicle of humm persistence and iurvival in the face of inconceivabtc horror. Tlt: sincerity and humanism at the base of Trumbo's fiil ;;. rh. qurlities which will dorninate audience reac.tion and. far morc than the 'pacifisr ! sentiment. should ensure the film's iusess. Newcomer Tirnothy Bottoms ,plalrr the hero, pinned to a bare hospiral bed as the realization that hc is no'morc S"n ,i ,"SGrrUle siaduairy ana terrifyingly cornes to him. His prcscnt ptighr is frhfr in srark bleck-and. wtrite. the harsh surroundinlt ilking on an almost documcntary qu4ity and hcightening the honor. But thc fr-lm is for rhc mos part ttrc suUjeorive trf,Prtsuons ot tne mlnd wlthin expressions of rhe mind wirhin the barely li living body. Mcmory and fanlas/ alternate and combine within his mind. andTrumbo has allocnred and Trumbo allocared Jules Bltnner's excellenl color photography i; these scqucnc... -*[iit acquire a dream-like tone. ln these flashbacks Bottoms givcs a moet moving and credible performance as the YgYnBl idealistil votunteer who ultiiratciy i.cor., rhe man'made freak. .|lingled with thc memories and fanrasics is- rur friend, Kathy Ficlds. whosc admqritionc for him ro froc rrri Oi*r SirJ larer haunt him for having ruined her life as well as his (rwll. Jason Robards plays his father with gryff tenderness and Mareha Hrnr is Bortoms' warm mother. A life that could havc been is beaurifully drawn by Trurnbo in opposition ro rhe nightmarc it becomes. within the nightmare. a sfiangc ,love grows between Bortoms and Diane Varsi' a young nursc movcd by his plight, *-ho learns ro intuir his needs and eventually to communica{e with trifr. When he asks. via Morse code, to be cither put on pubric display or elsc killed. \larsi is sropped by thc Military. for whom bottoms ii aimning evidln.. of their desrruction which must bc secreted away forevcr. Mis variis-p.;;mance is the strongest in the film and is a touchingly Ueauiifui polr.it of love antt hurnanity. completely banishing rrvulsilon. Parhos cmcrgcs withour a hint of senrimcntalhy rnd it is I rtunning achierernent. Panicularly in thc surrcal fantasy sequences. Trumtro has madc his ideological point in no uncertain term.. itrc llnesr- of rhese inroires r*o confrontations bcnveen Bottoms and Donald Surhirland.- pd;aying a rational. no'nonscnce Christ who clutchos at suiicsrions 'for helping Bottorns but ul'timately admits that cvcn Hc is im-pmcnr in rhc facc of w&r. ln other sccnes the propsgandizing bocolncs'literal .nJ unsuhrle: ironic statcmcnls about kiliing t; ,prcsc*e tifc and .d.il,";;.],J[omc

of

the

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today" fuid probebly tomorrow. Ag!-urt relcarc. Runnin3 time, I l2 minutcr. color and bleck-tnd.whitc. --

rcpctitive bcforc loo long. For the nnost part. howcvcr. thc story alone is eufficienl for poirfi' Though ortcnsibly taking- plaoc_ just efter World Wer i maling its r *r.- period accurately captured by Th;odors Van Runkle'r exccllent -C*tumcs "fohnny Got His Gun" iB a timctcis story wirh turifyini itf.r.ice ) for

No MPAA rating.

*.'$repHEN Kt-rtn

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