Johnny Got His Gun

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Product Description

Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo directed just one film in his career, but it was a doozy: Johnny Got His Gun, Trumbo’s 1971 adaptation of his 1939 novel and a work that has long been considered one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever produced. Ironically, though, there’s very little war in it, and nothing in the way of blood and guts. Instead, what we get is the tortured tale of one Joe Bonham (Timothy Bottoms), a callow 18-year-old who goes off to World War I because he believes that fighting for his country is the right thing to do. But when an officer orders some men to leave their trench and bury a dead enemy soldier, Joe is hit by a mortar shell and left without arms, legs, or a face (he can’t see, hear, or speak). Doctors assume that his cognitive brain function is gone as well, but in fact he can still think, reason, and feel (figuratively and literally); as a result, he has been consigned to a life far worse than death. The film intermingles scenes of Joe in an Army hospital as he gradually comes to understand his circumstances (we never actually see him, as he’s covered by a mask and sheets) with the various flashbacks, memories, and hallucinations he experiences during that process. The former, during which Bottoms supplies Joe’s thoughts in voice-over, are in black & white; the latter, which range from childhood memories (Joe’s father is played by Jason Robards) to bizarre fantasies like playing cards with Jesus Christ (Donald Sutherland), are in color, bathed in a kind of dreamy glow that’s countered by a heavy and persistent sense of dread. To be sure, Johnny Got His Gun has its heavy-handed, pretentious moments. But this is a smart, disturbing, and somber film that stands out in a genre (i.e., war movies) that unfortunately is never irrelevant. An excellent batch of bonus features includes an hour-long profile of Trumbo (who was jailed for contempt of Congress during the Communist witch hunts of the a??40s and a??50s, then blacklisted by Hollywood), a new interview with Bottoms, a 1940 radio adaptation of the story (featuring James Cagney as Joe), and even the Metallica music video “One,” which features extensive footage from the film. --Sam Graham

Studio: Uni Dist Corp (music) Release Date: 04/28/2009

Customer Reviews:

  • Johnny Got His Gun
    This movie made a lasting impression on me. I think it is THE BEST anti-war movie ever made....more info
  • A powerful, horrifying movie that should be seen, but not by all and not many times
    I know that the title of this review may seem strange , but here is what I mean. More than an attack on war this story is an attack on what we sometimes do in the name of life. The doctors in the movie all think they are doing something great keeping this "living meat" alive to study, never even thinking that this "hunk of meat" might be a thinking living person. The story is really a horror of the first order as we learn that this "lump" is alive, thinking and knows that he is doomed and wants to die but they won't let him. This is a very good , but flawed film that should be seen. That said it is such a downer(the last shot is just heartbreaking) that to watch this one more than once a year(if that often) is to invite a nightmares of the worst kind. If you are unsettled by the thought of being left alive with just your mind and no way to do anything for yourself then maybe you should skip this one!!!!!!...more info
  • Great new DVD transfer
    The new Shout! Factory DVD is an excellent widescreen transfer of this anti-war classic. The various lighting schemes are faithfully recreated, and the film is still as powerful as it was back in 1971. The DVD offers some excellent supplements, such as an hour-long documentary about Dalton Trumbo, an interview with lead Timothy Bottoms, some behind-the-scenes footage, a printed vintage article about the film, the original theatrical trailer, and the famous Metallica music video that employs images from the film. I wish that Bottoms et al had recorded a full-length audio commentary track, but the film and the special features are excellent. ...more info
  • Jonny got his gun
    As being one of the biggest metallica fans around, this film took 10 years to find,and it was well worth the wait.
    Its such a classic film-i can see why metallica liked it so much.
    This is a must for die hard metallica fans....more info
  • Dark Masterpiece
    I haven't read the book, but I knew the basic plot outline and so when I saw this film, I expected very strong anti-war sentiments to be pervasive throughout the movie. However, even though the main character loses his arms, legs, face and four of his five senses to a mortar in World War I, not a drop of blood is shown in the movie and the film's indictment of the institution of war seems to take a backseat to the young soldier's struggle to adapt to his dark, silent and motionless environment.

    I was hesitant to watch this film at first because I thought it would be dull to watch a two-hour movie concerning a horribly maimed young man lying in bed. However, due to his unique condition of being connected to this world only through his sense of touch, I found it fascinating how he first struggles to distinguish his dreams from his reality, and after that tries puts his energy toward discerning the passage of time.

    The movie includes a number of dream sequences, which to a man deprived of sight, sound, smell and taste, must certainly at least rival anything that happens during his waking hours in importance. The numerous dream sequences serve to explain his past and shed light on his values. Some of them are quite surreal, some are unhappy while some are fairly humorous.

    The ending is grim and the man's predicament is left unresolved, which leaves the viewer to fill in some of the blanks, but this invites the viewer to give the movie some thought after seeing it, and I by no means felt that the movie was left so open-ended that I felt like I had been shortchanged.

    I strongly recommend this brilliant film even to those people who generally avoid war movies....more info

  • What was this?
    I was a little disappointed in this film, but that's not to say that it wasn't at all good. It's just that having read Trumbo's brilliant anti-war pro-socialist novel prior to seeing the film made the film a little less amusing in my eyes.

    While the book itself was brilliant, giving us a detailed examination of the feelings, emotions and experiences of "Johnny" the film itself seems to add (though thankfully Trumbo's work as well) sections and experiences that weren't covered in the novel.

    Also missing was the cryptic ending of the book, which EVERYONE should read to get a better understanding of the nature of the story. I'm recommending the book, not the movie. The book itself is shocking enough......more info

  • The most riveting movie I've ever seen.
    From the opening scene to the end I was completed absorbed in this tragedy of a soldier who has been severely injured in combat. This movie is from a novel by Dalton Trumbo who was an anti-war activist. It builds and builds,and it hit me hard, made me think about war as I never had. It is definitely not for the squeamish. This is not just a soldier going thru rehabilitation;this is mind-blowiing material that I had never seen before and have never seen since. See this movie and I can almost guarantee you will never ever forget it. If everyone in the world would see it, perhaps we would finally achieve a world without war. The rest of the cast was excellent, but I have no present recall of their names. See this movie and I think you might decide to buy the book as well, which I did many years ago when I saw it. Timothy Bottoms does an exceptional job in this role....more info
  • Gratitude is a gift that we gain from Pain
    How else can we be grateful, if not from our own pain or from the pain others experience. The pain and hardship the young character in this film endures is beyond human tolerance. After viewing this film, I indeed counted my blessings. World War 1, 2, Vietnam, Iraq, any and all, have the one thing in common that this film depicts, the death and eternal sacrifice of our finest. Break out the towel but at the same time be proud when viewing "Johnny got his gun". PS: One might want to take the patriots point of view here but I personally feel That Dalton Trumbo (director) had a more thought provokeing message. See if you can tap in to it. "death be not proud" but Heroism will always be. Thank You a Vet. of Vietnam and grateful American....more info
  • 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. I saw it in the 1970's when it was released theatrically. I have vivid memories of it today. There's no question I was deeply moved and the intense images were burned into my psyche. But, be warned. I also remember it being the single most depressing film I've ever seen. In fact, that's my strongest memory of this challenging work. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy great dramas, even the unhappy ones. But this story is filled with such utter despair and hopelessness that it sent me into a profound state of depression. So, if you have a difficult time with exceedingly sad content, you should probably steer clear of this film....more info
  • The Shout DVD is very good, but sadly is an edited version
    After reading through all the commentary here on the Amazon forum I decided to rent this version before purchasing it, just to make sure I knew what I was getting.
    I remember seeing this movie in its intact, original form, and it saddens me that this version, like so many others, has been edited, with several seconds noticably missing from several key scenes. As others who know have already commented, some of these scenes are present, but have been edited and visibly shortened, for god only knows why.
    I decry any censorship in either the written or visual form that detracts from or lessons in any way the author or directors full intent. If something seriously offends me I alone reserve the right to stop reading or watching it. I do not need a censor from above to do this for me. Only god and those censors that made the cuts know their motives and rationale but IMO it shouldn't have happened.

    For those of you who were fortunate enough to have taped the most intact version that was broadcast on cable a few years back (in the 1990's), treasure what you have as it is not likely that we will see the likes of such a complete showing again.
    Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is scheduled to broadcast "Johnny Got His Gun" on the evening of July 15, 2009. I plan to record it but unless they have access to the original cable broadcast, mentioned above, I have my doubts that what I will see will differ from the "Shout" presentation.

    That said, this "Shout" presentaion is probably the most intact version of this 1971 classic otherwise in extent. The quality of the DVD is excellent and the Bonus interviews and material are well worth the price of admission. For the excellent quality of the DVD and the efforts of Shout to deliver I give them cudos, and the movie is still worth 5 stars. Even in its abridged form it is still very powerful and only those of us that know better will miss what we are not seeing.

    For those that can appreciate the movie, I strongly recommend the read as well. Both the book and the films screenplay and direction are by the same Dalton Trumbo, a controversial man in controversial times that sadly have changed so little over these many years.

    My Original (April 13, 2009) query & commentary "Could someone please tell us if this is the original, unedited version?" Follows Below:

    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. And what was worse, the insensitivity of a medical community willing to do anything to keep "Johnny" alive, so long as they believed that he was mentally dead.
    This movie, like the novel, has stuck with me many years, and when an opportunity to purchase an overpriced copy of it became available, I bought it, looking forward to seeing it again as I had remembered it. Sadly I was disappointed to discover that I had purchased an "edited" version of this fine film. Someone with "god-like" powers had deemed that one scene that I remember vividly, not because it was explicit, or pornographic, but because it was so human, should not be seen by the public, although the entire subject matter of the film is far more amoral. And just as the book was banned during WW 2 for its antiwar sentiments, so has this scene been banned, to protect us.
    War and disfigurement is acceptable. Keeping a vegetable alive as an experiment is acceptable. But viewing a tender moment of compassion and human touch is evil and subject to corrupt the viewer. The scene I recall, that was not present in the version I purchased, depicted a young nurse, caring for "Johnny." He has no extremities, and no face, but apparently his manhood was somehow spared. During a bath, he must have had an erection and this nurse, with tears in her eyes, compassionately relieved him. This was not graphically illustrated, but the viewer understood what was happening. Johnny blesses her as the only human to treat him like a man in all the years since his injury. Her tender touch is the only bright experience he has to look forward to. It was this nurse who finally realized that Johnny was still a thinking human being, and learned that his head tapping was Morse code for "please kill me." When she compassionately tried to smother him, with Johnny blessing her all the while, she was stopped by her superiors before the mercy killing was complete and terminated. Johnny was stashed away, even deeper into the bowels of the hospital "dungeon" least someone else discover the inhumanity of his forced survival.
    So here is the true pornography, that someone would not want us to see a scene that made the succeeding attempt at mercy killing so poignant. Johnny is left to be as forgotten as the forgotten war which took away all, except the man within the horribly injured shell.

    When I pay good money for a movie or a book, I want to see what the author or director had originally intended, unedited and unabridged. I want to decide for myself what is worthy for me to view or not.
    I would gladly purchase this DVD from Amazon, if I knew that it was intact and not edited in anyway from the original. So if someone has already purchased and viewed this current release, would you please enlighten us as to whether the scene which I described is present or not.
    It is not an explicit scene and its subtleness could easily be overlooked, by everyone except the censor. But its presence lends power to this movie that contrasts inhumanity with humanity.

    I cannot rate this current DVD since I have not seen it. As for the original uncut version, I would easily give it 5 stars.
    ...more info
  • Makes you realize how lucky you are
    I bought this movie for a friend of mine and watched it before I gave it to him. He told me I could. He said it changed his life, so was interested to see it. It sure makes you think about life itself. This poor young man was trapped in a body that could not respond in any way to people around him, yet he knew everything that was going on and all conversation. It sure lets you know the kind of terrible tragedies that happen to those who are in the service and sustain injuries so debilitating and have to live this way for the rest of their lives. We take for granted our freedom while others fight to preserve it. It has helped me want to be more willing to give to causes that need help because of services provided by those willing to give their lives in our behalf....more info
  • "S.O.S kill me"
    What would you do if you lost your arms, your legs, you cannot talk and you get confined to a bedroom in some gloomy hospital? Well, that's the thing about this movie. A young man went to war and ended like a human waste. What we understand is that the war is not a joke, not a bomb and explosion movie. War is this, a mutilated guy who only wants to die to end the nightmare.

    Johnny give us his perspective of his environment and of his new "world": feeding, bath, test, people coming and so on. The continuos flashbakcs give us more perspective of his life and what he was before the accident.

    Sometimes hard to see, it's a beautiful movie in the end, powerful and emotive....more info
    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 the packaging, because this couldn't be a PG version. It has the scenes that would make it R--Kareen's partial nudity, the prostitute and the, for lack of a better phrase, "compassionate relief" scene with the nurse. The "I'm the boss, this is champagne, Merry Chrismas" scene is in there too, so if something was cut, I have no idea what it would be.

    This is one of those films that clearly endures (I'm proof), and we need its message more than ever now. Extras are phenomenal, too (Tim Bottoms looks great!). Kudos to Shout for digging it up and dusting it off!...more info
  • Interesting movie. OK DVD release with poor Audio.
    If you ever feel like a victim, watch this movie and be grateful for what you have. It helps to understand where the original novel is coming from - the author was gravitating between communism and pacifism for most of his life. Since communists tried to believe in a world without God, don't be surprised if some of that ideology gets reflected in this movie's themes. You don't have to agree with them to enjoy the movie. If there is so much suffering (and a youth without arms and legs, who also is deaf and blind might be a little extreme in stating this point), at least there is the option of freedom - and if there would be no suffering, we may not have freedom either.

    I got my new DVD more than a month before "official" release - of all the places - at a used DVD store. The 2009 Shout Factory release looks OK and is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen. Be prepared to see plenty of B&W scenes from the present alternating with color ones from the past and dreams. The biggest issue with this DVD is the Audio: it's just 2.0 Channel. There are no optional subtitles, and some people may have difficulty understanding the words at reasonable volume. There is a small poster with the same image as on the cover included within the DVD case....more info
  • Very moving and emotional movie
    This is one of my favorite movies of all time. It's about a young American soldier named Johnny who gets hit by a shell on the last day of the First World War. Johnny lies in a hospital bed, a quadruple amputee who has lost his eyes, ears, mouth and nose. His only means of communication is by banging his head against his pillow. As the movie progresses you get inside Johnny's head by means of a series of flashbacks and fantasy sequences. We learn about Johnny's failed shoe salesman father, his first, and last night with the woman he loves, his pre war job in the local bakery. I was so moved by the nurse in the movie. She finds a way to communicate with Johnny and her kindness to him should inspire us all. So, what's this movie all about? Well it's a damning indictment of war, obviously, and a strange one at that. But it's also a metaphysical examination of what it is to be human. The absence of limbs and features in no way extinguishes Johnny's imperishable humanity and in this case the mind definitely rules the body rather than vice versa. Bizarrely, the story is based on real events, and while this kind of truth is usually too strange to be turned into fiction, the director successfully turns Johnny into the living embodiment of the horror of war,but also of the unquenchable resilience of the human spirit. This is a wonderful movie and I highly recommend it if you are someone who likes to watch movies where when you are done watching it the story stays in your mind and has a high impact on you.

    ...more info
  • Chilling adaptation
    The book had a profound affect on me when I was young. I only saw this film adaptation recently and was pleased that it was adapted so closely to the book. It is a chilling and frigthening portrayal of the consequences of war on the young in particular. Truly a classic adaptation of the classic novel....more info
  • Weird speeds - whats up with that..!?
    The black & white segments of this movie(and some of the color segments) remind me of the 3 stooges shorts: fast jerky movements. It looks like the tape is running at different speeds. If this was intentional by the filmakers, I do not know. This was very distracting to watch. You can tell everything is 'looped' too(where actors re-record their lines) because their mouths rarely matched what was being heard. But this is an old movie so I can understand that a little - a lot of 70s movies have that issue(Dirty Harry, Deliverance, etc). The making-of is not really a making of. It spends most of the 49 minutes talking about how the director was blacklisted in the 1950's which I didn't care to hear about. I was more interested in the making of this movie than the directors career. The Metallica video is flawed. It looks like someone hit the pause and play button rapidly every 10 seconds, giving it a really weird movement. It was out of sync. This is not the way the video is on a Metallica 'The Videos '89-'03' DVD from a few years ago. The above issues, along with the editing mentioned in other reviews, makes me say you are better off renting it and not buying it like I did. The jerky movements are distracting. If I want to see that I can watch the 3 stooges and see how they speed up the film when they do pratfalls, etc. Overall I like the movie, just not the presentation of it on this DVD....more info
  • Never Judge A Book By Its Cover
    In 1971 I was 17, and a budding "hippie" with anti-war leanings and a rebel streak a mile long. While riding the NYC subway to work 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 adolescent shoot-`em-up war epic", I thought to myself, dismissing the teen and his book from my mind. A few weeks later, I read an article in the newspaper that a film was being made of the book Johnny Got His Gun, and I was instantly embarrassed at my previous assumption of the book's subject matter when I read that Johnny Got His Gun was actually a pacifist anti-war classic, and that its author, Dalton Trumbo, had been blacklisted as a communist during the 1950's. A few days later, I ran across the book in my favorite bookstore, and picked it up almost without thinking.

    I was immediately blown away by the intense imagery of the narrative's storyline. Joe Bonham, an 18-year old soldier, is hit by a bombshell on the last day of WWI, and awakes in a hospital bed horribly deformed. Unable to speak, see, hear, or smell, he gradually learns that his arms and legs have been amputated. As the horror of his situation unfolds in a stream-of-consciousness first person narrative, he slowly realizes that the bomb shell that hit him scooped out his face, leaving a gaping hole where his eyes, ears, nose and mouth used to be. The army doctors automatically assume he is a thoughtless vegetable, and in an experimental effort to see if they can keep someone in his condition alive, he spends the next several years in a hospital bed, well cared-for but practically forgotten. Joe is constantly thinking but unable to communicate. Deprived of all senses, except feelings and thoughts, his story movingly unfolds, and I was forever transformed by the beauty of Mr. Trumbo's story-telling ability and the terror-filled description of Joe's situation. He spends his days remembering the details of his young life, while struggling to overcome the inability to discern his conscious thoughts from his nightmares. As I waited for the film's premiere, I must have read and re-read the book a half dozen times, and 38 years later, portions of the powerful book still stick with me.

    I saw the film on opening day in an art house on the east side of Manhattan, and although I was slightly disappointed by the movie's inability to project the author's hauntingly beautiful prose onto the screen, the story has remained a favorite of mine ever since. I recall that the film got lukewarm reviews, but I remember urging all of my friends to see it and experience it for themselves. I also remember a review by Rex Reed, then one of the top film critics in NY. In describing the scene where Joe finally manages to communicate with a nurse the fact that he has conscious thoughts, Mr. Reed said that that scene alone contained more tenderness than the entire film "Love Story" (which was then a current smash hit). I was also bitterly disappointed that the film did not get more attention.

    Recently I learned that an all-region DVD of the film was available from Portugal, and I gladly paid Amazon the import price of the DVD. I also obtained a new copy of the book, and found to my delight that the story had lost none of its impact 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, vibrant and surprisingly topical.

    Apparently due the fact that a stage version (and a DVD of the stage version) is getting quite a bit of attention, the powers that be have finally decided to release this forgotten gem. I will now order the new DVD as well.

    Although the film is slightly dated, I heartily recommend it for its unforgettable storyline. I also recommend that anyone who enjoys it check out the novel; Mr. Trumbo's masterpiece is every bit as compelling as any film version could ever be.
    ...more info
  • 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. A battered Bantam edition with a cover painting vaguely screaming, then intensely burning into my eyes when I realized in that dark store what I was seeing--a used book store--a dark cold November late afternoon-the first war novel I bought, because of that front cover of hell and the resounding review blurbs from all over the world on the back and inside. I read it Friday night. I was in UT. I have never been more shaken in my life. I had nightmares that night that Joe was on my attic steps trying to weep and having no eyes or face. The putting away when discovered, the shame of it, and far too often the truth is hidden, until it is too late.

    When the movie came out, I saw it in Memphis one hot Saturday afternoon. I was astounded that an "unfilmable" novel was filmed. As has been said, the beauty, the passion, the sheer incredible urgency of Dalton Trumbo's words could not be conveyed, yet it is unforgettable. I wrote endlessly about both for my university newspaper. I wanted to scream on housetops, read this book, see this film.

    Timothy Bottoms was superb as Joe. His dreams, his nightmares, his dad, his mom, his girl, even Christ mingle and slip away and try to help or say stay far from me, and his gradual knowing piece by piece what has happened to him. "Oh Joe, put your two strong arms around me. Oh Joe, don't go. You won't come back." To the angry roar of the crowds and of the train ready for hell and the pompous patriotic speeches screamed in the background, all of it a series of horrors, a bid for love, a nurse's kindness, and the utter tragedy, for this is the face of war, Joe says to himself, everyone must see me, SOS SOS SOS

    It is the most powerful book I have ever read and re-read, and one of the most powerful movies. Part of the genius of them is focusing on one soldier, few battle scenes, taking us into the mind of a man as dead as dead can be and who horribly is aware and thinks. The sheer rapture of Joe's becoming able to count the days, to know it is Christmas morning, to dream he is whole and young and free as he falls into glorious summer grass on a blue sky day.

    One of the greats. A book and a movie needed right this second. Somehow Dalton Trumbo wrote from inside the mind of a man so destroyed. Somehow he made it into a movie. I wish to climb again to the house tops and scream see this movie, read this book. It is so heartening to read the reviews--and how such power and such love of life Dalton Trumbo created is remembered and still loved. That's the thing of it. Joe on my attic steps, trying to cry, but having no face or eyes. That is the thing....more info
  • amazing
    amazingly insightful view about the effects of war, one of the best movies ever...more info
  • Probably won't be released on DVD for some time
    I have this film on an old vhs tape that I recorded off of one of the movie channels about 15 years ago. The quality of the recording is poor at best. I do wish this movie was available on dvd, but I suspect with what's going on over in Iraq, our government wouldn't want our young men and women to see this movie for fear it might get them to thinking. We wouldn't want that to happen, now would we?...more info
  • 'One'
    It was so good! Especially the bonus features with the blacklisting and the 'tallica video. Loved it, one of the best novels ever made into a really good film....more info
  • Still an amazing movie, but the DVD itself...
    Johnny Got His Gun is one of my favorite films and by far the most depressing I've ever seen. I recommend it to just about anyone... however, I have a few issues with this DVD.

    First of all, it IS edited. I have a VHS copy and Kareen is definitely shown nude from the front in it. I'm not sure what else was cut out, but based on the different running times mentioned in other reviews, there must be more and I find this annoying and unnecessary.

    Also, I'm not sure if it's just my copy, but I am unable to watch the music video or the interview with Timothy Bottoms. When I try to select them, the trailer plays. This is something I have to take up with the company, I guess, but just beware!

    The quality of the DVD itself is fine. The sound isn't that great, but I didn't expect it to be... and it's audible to healthy ears. The problem is those with not-so-great ears have no way to follow it since there are no subtitles. What the hell, people? It's 2009!

    I am still thrilled to finally have this on DVD since I'm not sure how much longer my VHS copy will last, but I'm not entirely pleased with it and recommend buyers take these things into consideration before excitedly purchasing like I did without looking into reviews/specifics of the DVD. ...more info
  • This movie will mess you up for life!!!
    All right, I'll begin by saying that "Yes! This is the movie from the Metallica video" Good, now that is out of the way..... This is one of the finest works of cinema you will ever see. The story is along the lines of a train wreck (you can't stop watching no matter how much you want to). It is a beautifully twisted look into the mind of a man whos only remaining sense is touch. Which is not much when you have no arms or legs. The feel of the sun on his skin is the only way he can keep track of time. His memories are his only company. This film will let you see how a man can be trapped in his own body. You will be disturbed, uncomfortable, and the memories of this movie will creep up on you when you're alone in the dark. Enjoy....more info
  • Great movie, but I'd like to see this on DVD
    I saw this movie in high school - years before Metallica used clips of it for its "One" video. It's a chilling and disturbing anti-war movie about a limbless, blind, deaf, mute who served in combat. Right now, you can't even get this title on VHS. I'd love to see this on DVD, and maybe one day, my wish will be granted. ...more info
  • 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. I seem to remember that the version I saw was rated R, so I'm assuming that that version was close to (or the same as) the official theatrical release. The version I saw was a masterpiece by any standards.

    Now I may be totally wrong about this, but this DVD version from Shout Factory seems to be edited, censored, or whatever you want to call it. If it's been chopped up, then it's also a big disappointment, considering that this was an exceptionally fine motion picture in its original form. So what's the deal, Shout Factory - has this movie been edited in any way? If so, then are you guys going to release the original cut of the film, or is this what we have to live with?

    P.S. I rented this movie first from a local video rental outfit. If anyone has a copy of (or vividly remembers seeing) an uncut version, I'd be interested in reading your opinions about this re-release. Personally I'm going to wait and see before I put out good money for this DVD. Totally unacceptable.
    ...more info
  • Johnny got his gun
    now the world is gone, i'm just one....more info
  • Why can we never find it?
    Dalton Trumbo's novel, Johnny Got His Gun, is one of the best pieces of American writing ever produced, and possibly THE greatest anti-war novel, and yet, somehow, the movie based on this stellar book is never available, ANYWHERE! It is a sin to deprive fans of the late Mr. Trumbo an oppertunity to view his finest work in film form, and I personally think it is a shame the book itself is not more widely read....more info

    It is sweet and glorius to die for one's country.

    This quote from Horatio comes with the end credits having read the amazing book and now finally watched the DVD, it really put the hook in me, though been years since I read the book, and maybe it was ever more amazing now than 15 years ago, (Think ill read it again..)

    An amazing film with a very disturbing message, I am in awe... cant believe Dalton Trumbo, it took 16 years after his death to recieve an oscar, kinda speaks for it self about the impact this film had, and still has!

    Watch it, and read the even better book!

    And here's to you THAT REVIEWER.. at amazon in the U.K they got it on DVD R2... get it at
    WWW.AMAZON.CO.UK...more info
  • Read the book, too, and find the play if you can!
    The figure of horrifically wounded soldier Joe Bonham literally haunted my nightmares after just seeing the clips from this film in Metallica's "One" video when I was younger. I have since been moved and quite changed by seeing the full film, reading Trumbo's novel (several times), and experiencing the little-known stage adaptation by Bradley Rand Smith. Trumbo's novel is required reading for anyone interested in war literature. There is no story like the story of Joe Bonham, a boy who has, as literally as one can state it, lost everything by blindly participating in a war he never understood. The film, book, and play are staunchly anti-war and may come across overly didactic (even unneccessarily so) at times, but the subject of these great pieces of art is Joe himself. It is ultimately a story about life, about how far the human spirit can be pushed and about the absolutely senseless reasons we destroy ourselves and each other. For me, the film is a little messy, in comparison to the book and play, but all three together really get the point across. If you're interested in learning more about the play (which Amazon doesn't carry - and should!), check out the website I've included. It's always being produced somewhere it seems, especially in NYC. And if enough of us ask for it, I bet we can get the film on DVD sometime soon!...more info
  • Yes, this is the movie from the Metallica video, "One."
    Being a die hard fan of Metallica, their hit song, "One" was made into avideo with the footage from this movie.I finally found the movie and watched it on the edge of my seat. Young man goes off to war leaving his new wife -so he can stand up for "democracy." But, yet, he isn't sure himself what democracy is or why he's fighting. He becomes a human vegetable when a bomb is thrown into the trenches that he's hiding out in. And that's just the beginning!! People think he's dead until he uses The Morse Code with his head! He has no arms, legs,etc. Nurse notices this and now poor old Johnny becomes a side show. Needles to say, the politicians become involved, and want him to remain alive for "evaluation." But, his nurse now is attached to him. He asks the nurse to pull the plug, and let him die. Does she? I won't tell. Watch it. The book probably reads better than the movie plays, as it usually does. Part of the reason why this movie is such a downer is because it's old, and was probably made on a shoe string budget. Almost plays like a documentary....more info
  • Haunts even after 23 yrs.
    It was a cable station out of Oakland,Ca.
    The movie was veiwed from sitting on a trailer
    living room floor in Mississippi. It was 3am
    when the movie started,with it's title no one
    would think much of it. But in the Mississippi
    darkness 500 miles from home it was viewed--
    It is the best darkest movie I have ever veiwed
    Well directed,well acted but yet a over looked movie
    due to it's conserversity and the so call way of the times.
    The movie is riveting and very haunting . It must be- fore I
    hope on some day veiwing this movie on DVD.
    The movie remains in mind forever...The injustice that falls
    on all..........more info
  • Beyond words
    When I was young, the heavy metal group Metallica released a video entitled "One". A child at the time, I remember seeing black and white images of a man who appeared to be wearing a nurse's mask, and hearing narration. Later on, seeing the video a few times, I realized what it was about, who this man was, and the general plotline. I was so simultaneously horrified, depressed, and abysmally aware that this COULD happen and probably had happen that I thought about it for days. I even feared, for a time, turning on MTV for fear of seeing the video again. It stuck in my mind like morbid superglue.

    Finding out more about "Johnny Got His Gun" as novel, I was almost terrified to touch the book, but soon couldn't resist anymore. The impact of the novel on my mind was indescribable. Although I had no intention whatsoever of seeing the film (the book, in it's depth, sincerity, hopelessness and painstaking attention to gruesome detail had overwhelmed me), I promised myself that one day I would.

    I did. While it doesn't approach the power of the novel, it is a film like no other. I have never once seen a plot this bleak and "in your face" in terms of anti war, matters of human dignity and just bare suffering ever. It made my stomach turn, heart leap and etched in my memory. The scenes where Joe talks to an obviously illusory Christ are surreal and disturbing. This is bar none the most powerful anti-war film, and one (if not the) powerful films I have ever seen. I am not surprised at it's obscurity, as few would even want to see it. Brilliant, breathtaking, and absolutely devastating. If you're up for a challenge and a mind blower, watch this straight through with no breaks....more info

  • Johnny got his gun
    Well where do i start??...Land mine has taken my sight,taken my speech,taken my hearing,taken my arms,taken my legs,taken my soul,left me in a life of hell![.] Yes The lyrics to "ONE" by the mighty "Metallica" who also love this vid!!
    If u like this tune u will love the vid!!
    It has taken me 10 long years to find this vid but my good friend "Tim Ednie" found it through "Steven"-say no more!Thanks m8!
    Well the vid is a very deep and meaninfull and makes you wonder what it would be like to be like "Johnny" so if you are a "Die Hard" Metallica fan..then you need this vid!! its a must!!
    ......more info
    The trailer to this film bills it as ''a celebration of the human spirit', a tagline which fails to reflect the true nature of the original book, which, rather than being ''a celebration'' of the human spirit, is, in fact, a denunciation of that spirit's failure, a failure which manifests itself in a tendency towards self-extermination and a desire to perpetuate war.
    ...more info
  • 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. Is this the edited version? Also, a few years ago PBS broadcast a version that ran nearly two hours. Do anyone know what is included in this release and what is not? Is there an all region release that might be more complete? ...more info
  • An Insightful View On The Horrors Of War
    Personally, I enjoyed the movie a lot. It clearly illustrated the horrible nature of war and the negative effects it can have on individuals who fight for their countries. The only bad thing I can really say about this movie is that it is somewhat slow paced. It is a sad and depressing movie, but war is not exactly a happy topic anyway. The movie differs slightly from the book (although it was directed by Dalton Trumbo who wrote the book). In my opinion the book is almost always better than the movie, such is true in this case. I highly recommend watching this movie, but only if you have the patience to sit through a slower paced film....more info
  • This movie is hauntingly excellent!
    I don't think I've ever seen a movie with a message as important as this one. It is a deep, twisted, emotional masterpiece which really opens one's eyes to the tragedies that go along with war. The cast does a great job of making you feel sympathy and pain with Johnny. Simply put, this is a movie which everyone should see!...more info
  • Netherworld Follies
    This is a significant film that has reached cult status. Dalton Trumbo wrote the novel in 1938, won the National Book Award, and then the book was banned as subversive. Trumbo suffered a polemic from HUAC in 1949, and spent a year in jail for contempt of congress. The book was banned again in 1950, during the Korean War. Kirk Douglas brought him out of exile in 1960 to write the screenplay for SPARTACUS. In 1970, Trumbo directed this film himself, adapted from his own book, and it emerged as a scathing anti-war allegory. When the film opened, it did poorly at the box office in America. The Viet Nam war had clouded the issue. Perhaps if he had included more humor and satire in the picture it would have been easier to digest. Watching it is like drinking white lightning; it burns all the way down.

    In 1989, the rock group Metallica released a 7 minute video called TWO OF ONE, and it did use clips from this film. This helped to generate more interest in the movie. The cinematography was above average, done by Jules Brenner, nicely blending B&W, sepia, and full color scenes.

    We are introduced in the opening scene to a group of doctors discussing a decerebrated patient, a grievously wounded soldier, assumed to be brain dead; incapable of sentience or dreams; just an armless, legless, faceless, totally deaf living chunk of meat with a beating heart and an active colon. But we soon hear the soldier's voice, and realize he is aware of his environment.

    Timothy Bottoms, in his film debut, played the young soldier, Joe Bonham. He did an exceptional job with the voice over work, and we get to see him in the flesh in flashbacks; even the moment he crouched in the trenches, readying himself for his rendezvous with the howitzer shell that had his name on it. There were some rough spots in his acting, but overall he was fine as the fresh-faced naive Joe. Jason Robards played the father, and he underplayed brilliantly. He was a terrific actor, who could bray and strut like in A THOUSAND CLOWNS, or he could quietly inhabit a role like he did in this film. Kathy Fields did a credible job as Joe's sweetheart, Kareen. Charles McGraw was wonderfully gruff, yet compassionate at Kareen's Dad. Eduard Franz, a skilled character actor, played the pivotal role of General Tillery, the doctor that had spared Joe's life, such as it was. Donald Sutherland played Christ, looking every inch both the hippy and the savoir. His scenes gave us a humorous take on death and war. Trumbo should have paid more attention to this level of satire. It might have made this movie more popular to the audiences of 1971.

    Diane Varsi was outstanding as the fourth Nurse. She found a way to share her love of humanity with what was left of Joe. Her willingness to see him as a human being, to open windows, to sponge bathe him, even masturbate him, showed a level of compassion unrivaled in the piece. It was she that figured out Joe's incessant head movements were important. They turned out to be Morse code. Joe found a way to commlunicate with his doctors.

    He asked to be allowed to be around other people, even to be given over to a carnival if necessary. He was tired of being alone. If they would not do this, then they should kill him. It was a chilling scene indeed, when shame, guilt, and cowardice washed over the medical assemblage. They fled quickly, exiling Nurse Varsi from the room, turned their backs on him, leaving him alone and drugged in the darkness and the complete silence, in the hellish limbo of the land of the living dead.

    I liked this film a lot, more for its message than its content. As TV Guide put it, the movie was,"flawed but powerful." This film has sturdy teeth, and it bites through much of the traditional dogma, propaganda, and lies that politicians force-feed us eternally. It teaches us that blind patriotism can lead us into dark events, whereby the powers that be will be able to manipulate or sacrifice our life or limb on the alter of their choosing. It teaches us further that freedom, liberty, and democracy can be reduced to buzz words that can mantle the real issues. We come to realize that, in fact, there are worse things in this world than death. ...more info
  • James Hettfield was Moved it must be a good flick.
    As a long standing fan of Metallica, I'd really like to see this film. Unfortunately, given today's Political Climate that's doubtful. There is a brief scene in the band's Long Version of the Music Video where the protaganist, as a young boy, asks his Father, "What is Democracy?" This is pre-WWI. The Father, John Huston, I think, mumbles something like, "It's got something to do with young men killing each other, I think." I made sure my kids watched that video, back inna day...
    The cover is, for me, thought provoking in a way. That Peace sign, the split fingers. That sign has it's roots in the 15th century, you know, The 100 Years War. At the Battle of Agincourt, the French cut the middle fingers off of Welsh Archers that they had captured. After that, the Longbowmen would show that they still had their fingers by flashing, what later became, the Peace sign.
    A few years ago, my now grown son joined the Army, right out of College. He sent me a great picture of him taking a break on a training march...serreptitiously flashing the Peace sign.

    If you can't see the movie, go pick up a Metallica CD called "And Justice For All". You never know. It could be life altering. Give Heavy Metal a chance.
    "...tied to machines that make me be...Cut this life off from me, Hold my breath as I wish for Death, Oh, Please, God, wake me...." ...more info
  • Found It On Dvd
    I recently was looking for this title on dvd and to my surprise it has not been released officially on dvd in the U.S. When i searched it out i could only find the old vhs copy and some people wanted ludicrous amounts of money for it ($30 or $40) I searched Ebay and found that you can get it as a import dvd it doesnt have regional code so it plays in U.S. Dvd Players and for the price i got it for it was well worth it. The Copy i got was pretty good considering it hasnt been officially released and not available anywhere else on dvd except in england for some reason for those who were looking get it while you can ...more info
  • awesome forever
    Beautiful, simply beautiful. And haunting. Dalton Trumbo's directorial debut brings new life and depths to his timeless novel of the same name. The acting and narration is impeccable, a must see. Visually and emotionally engaging. "I'm tired of old men dreaming up wars for young men to go die in."

    -jimbo...more info