Johnny Got His Gun (1971) Reviews

Johnny Got His Gun

Johnny Got His Gun is one of the most emotionally devastating films you’re likely to see. You won’t soon forget it, and that’s either going to spur you on to some useful introspection or drive you a little mad. That’s the sign of masterful writing, and Trumbo’s singular achievement. –DVD Talk, April 17th 2009

A young American soldier (Timothy Bottoms) is wounded by a mortar shell on the last day of World War I. He lies in a hospital bed as a quadruple amputee who has (more…)

13 responses to “Johnny Got His Gun (1971) Reviews”

  1. Timmy says:

    This review is from: Johnny Got His Gun [VHS] (video tape) I have not read the book, but I knew the basic plot outline, and so if I have this movie I expected a very strong anti-war -Pervasive feelings throughout the film. But even if the main character loses his arms, legs, face and four of his five senses to a mortar during the First World War, not one drop of blood is in the film and the film of the charges against the institution of war seems to take the background for the young soldiers in the struggle to adapt to his dark, silent and motionless environment. I was reluctant to order this movie at first because I thought it would be boring, a two-hour film about a young man cruelly mutilated lying in bed. Due to his unique condition, that in this world only by his sense of touch, I found it fascinating, as he first fights for his dreams from his reality, and after that his energy trying to be recognized over time. The film contains a series of dream sequences, to a man without eyes, hear, smell, taste, must surely rival, at least, what happens during his waking hours in importance. The many dream sequences serve to shed his past and about his values. Some of them are quite surreal, some are not satisfied, while some are quite humorous. The end is bleak and the people the situation is not resolved, the viewer to fill in some blanks, but it asks the viewer to see the movie some thought after the visit, and I do not believe that The film was so open that I felt like I was short changed. I would recommend this brilliant film on the people who usually avoid war movies.

  2. Sabiti says:

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    classic, original, and very depressing.
    johnny got his gun as we all know is incredible, but i just wanted to comment on an unedited version i have.

  3. Uriah says:

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    10 second difference between R and PG version
    Given the debate over the running time and rating in these reviews, let me clear up the confusion. The only difference between Shout Factory’s version and the Media Home…

  4. Van says:

    This review is from: Johnny Got His Gun [VHS] (video tape) This is an important film, the cult status achieved. Dalton Trumbo wrote the novel in 1938, won the National Book Award, and then the book was banned as subversive. Trumbo into a polemic from HUAC in 1949, and spent a year in jail for contempt of Congress. The book was published in 1950 and again banned, during the Korean War. Kirk Douglas has taken him from exile in 1960 to write the screenplay for SPARTACUS. In 1970, Trumbo directed this film himself, in his own book, and it is a scathing anti-war allegory. When the movie opened, it was poorly at the box office in America. The Vietnam war had clouded the issue. Maybe he would have more humor and satire in the picture, it would be easier to digest. Watch, as drinking White Lightning, they burnt all the way down.
      In 1989, the rock group Metallica released a 7-minute video called “two for one, and it did use clips from that film. This helped to attract more interest in the film. The cinematography was above average, by Jules Brenner, nice mixture B & W, sepia, color and scenes.
      We are in the opening scene to a group of doctors on a decerebrated patient, a seriously wounded soldier, assumed to be brain dead, incapable of sentience or dreams, while only one armless, legless, faceless, totally deaf living piece of meat with a heart and an active colon. But we soon heard the voice of the soldier, and recognize that he is aware of his environment.
      Timothy Bottoms, in his film debut, played the young soldier, Joe Bonham. He has an extraordinary job with the Voice-over work, and we get to see him in the flesh in flashbacks, and the moment he crouched in the trenches, preparing for his meeting with the howitzer shell, which his name. There were a few corners in his acting, but overall he was fine as the fresh naive before Joe. Jason Robards played the father, and he superbly underplayed. He was a great actor, that Bray and Strut like in a thousand clowns, or he could quietly inhabiting a role, as in this film. Kathy Fields have a credible job as Joe's lover, Kareen. Charles McGraw was wonderfully gruff but compassionate Kareen's Dad. Eduard Franz, skilled character actor, plays the central role of General Tillery, the doctor who spared Joe's life as it was. Donald Sutherland played Christ looking every inch the hippie and the savoir. His scenes gave us a humorous take on death and war. Trumbo should pay more attention to this level of satire. It could come from this film more popular to the audience of 1971.
      Diane Varsi was excellent, as the fourth nurse. They found a way to love her with what the man was from Joe. Their willingness to see him as a man, windows to open, sponge bathe him to masturbate him, showed a level of compassion unrivaled in the piece. She was there to find out Joe's constant head movements were important. It turned out to be Morse code. Joe found a way to commlunicate with his doctors.
      He asked for permission to seek other people, even to be used for a carnival, if necessary. He was tired of alone. If they fail, then they should kill him. It was a chilling scene indeed, if shame, guilt and cowardice washed over the medical assemblage. They fled quickly, exiling nurse Varsi from the room, their backs to him so that he alone, and drugs in the darkness and the silence in the hell of Limbo land of the living dead.
      I liked this movie a lot more for its message than its content. How is TV Guide, the film was “flawed, but powerful.” This film has strong teeth, and she bites through much of the traditional doctrine, propaganda and lies that politicians force feed us eternally. It teaches us that patriotism can blind us to the dark events, whereby the powers, able to manipulate or sacrifice our lives or in part to the change of their choice. It also teaches us that freedom, liberty and democracy can buzz on the mantle, the real problems. We have come to realize that in fact, there are worse things in this world than death.

  5. Nubia says:

    4.0 out of 5 stars
    PG and R versions are NOT the same!
    I felt the need to point out some stuff regarding the debate about the different ratings for Johnny Got His Gun.

  6. Jovana says:

    In 1971 I was 17, and a young “hippie” with anti-war tendencies and a rebel streak one miles long. During the ride the subway to work NYC one day, I noticed a young man about my age absorbed in a book, as he rode next to me. The title of the book was Johnny Got his gun. “Probably some right-wing youths' shoot-em-up war epic”, I thought, dismissing the teen and his book out of my head. A few weeks later, I read an article in the newspaper that a film was taken from the book Johnny Got his gun, and I was immediately embarrassed, in my earlier assumption is the subject of the book when I read that Johnny Got his gun was actually a pacifist anti-war classics, and that the writer, Dalton Trumbo had been blacklisted as a communist during the 1950s. A few days later, I ran into the book in my favorite bookstore, and picked it up almost without thinking.
      I was immediately impressed by the images of the intense narrative of the plot. Joe Bonham, a 18-year-old soldier from a bomb on the last day of the First World War, and awakens in a hospital bed horribly deformed. Unable to speak, see, hear or smell, after he learns that his arms and legs were amputated. Since the horrors of his situation unfolds in a stream-of-consciousness storytelling, he slowly realizes that the bomb shell, which scooped him out of his face, so that an open invitation, where his eyes, ears, nose and mouth are used will. The army doctors automatically assume he is a thoughtless vegetables, and in an experimental effort to see if they can be someone in his condition in life, he spends the next few years in a hospital, well groomed, but virtually forgotten. Joe is constantly thinking, but not in a position to communicate. Deprived of all senses, unless feelings and thoughts, his story unfolds moving, and I was always the beauty of the story Mr. Trumbo ability and terror-filled Joe's description of the situation. He spends his days remembering the details of his young life during the battle for the inability to recognize his conscious thoughts out of his nightmares. As I waited for the movie premiere, I have read and re-read the book half a dozen times, and 38 years later, parts of the book even more powerful stick with me.
      I saw the film on the first day in a sort of house on the East Side of Manhattan, and although I was somewhat disappointed by the film not in the position of the author project hauntingly beautiful prose to the screen, the story has remained a favorite of mine since. I remember that the film got lukewarm reviews, but I remember all my friends calls to see and experience it for themselves. I also remember a review from Rex Reed, then one of the top film critics in New York. In describing the scene in which Joe finally managed to communicate with a nurse that he is aware of thoughts, Mr. Reed said that the scene, which alone more tenderness than the entire film “Love Story” (which was the latest hit ). I was also bitterly disappointed that the film is not more attention.
      Recently I learned that an all-region DVD of the film was from Portugal, and I gladly paid the Amazon import price of the DVD. I also have a new copy of the book, and found to my delight that the story had lost nothing of its effect after 38 years. Why should it? The book was first published in 1939, and when I first discovered it 32 years later, I found it fresh, lively and surprisingly topical.
      Apparently due to the fact that a stage version (and a DVD of the stage version) is a lot of attention, the powers that be finally decided to forget this gem. I am now the new DVD as well.
      Although the film is a bit of, I heartily recommend it for the unforgettable story. I would also recommend that anyone who enjoys it the departure of the novel, Mr. Trumbo's masterpiece is just as convincing as all the film version will ever be.

  7. Lakeisha says:

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    PG and R versions are the same!
    Some reviewers are confused on this film print used for shout factory’s dvd presentation for “Johnny Got His Gun”.

  8. Taariq says:

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Just watched this for the first time in almost 40 years, and I am reeling all over again.
    After reading previous reviews, I think there must have been a mistake on…

  9. Usoa says:

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Could someone please tell us if this is the original, unedited version?
    When I first saw this film in its original version it depicted, without actually showing, the horror of war through the memories of this hapless victim.

  10. Jaetyn says:

    1.0 out of 5 stars
    I Have The Same Concerns As Stith
    I saw this movie years ago, either on VHS, cable, or while I was at college, and it was a while after it was originally released at the movie theater.

  11. Edmund says:

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Two Concerns – Can anyone Help?
    I have two concerns about this dvd release. First, when I saw this movie in the theatre, it was rated “R”. It was later CUT for a “PG” or “M” rating.

  12. Ulani says:

    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Dalton Trumbo, teller of truths, Joe Bonham, keeper of secrets
    I am overjoyed “Johnny Got His Gun” is finally on DVD. Like the other reviewers, I key into the moment I got the book, saw the movie.

  13. Prunella says:

    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Powerful, But Be Warned!
    Everything the previous 2 reviewers say about this film is true. It’s one of the most powerful anti-war films ever made.

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