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Johnny Got His Gun (film): Wikis


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Johnny Got His Gun
Directed by Dalton Trumbo
Produced by Bruce Campbell
Written by Dalton Trumbo
Starring Timothy Bottoms
Jason Robards
Donald Sutherland
Diane Varsi
Kathy Fields
Music by Jerry Fielding
Cinematography Jules Brenner
Distributed by Cinemation Industries
Release date(s) 1971
Running time 111 min.

Johnny Got His Gun is a 1971 anti-war film based on the novel of the same name written and directed by Dalton Trumbo and starring Timothy Bottoms, Jason Robards, and Donald Sutherland.



Joe Bonham (Bottoms), a young American soldier hit by an artillery shell on the last day of World War I, lies in a hospital bed. He is a quadruple amputee who has also lost his eyes, ears, mouth and nose. He remains conscious and able to reason, however, rendering him a prisoner in his own body. As he drifts between reality and fantasy, he remembers his old life with his family and girlfriend (Kathy Fields). He also forms a bond, of sorts, with a young nurse (Diane Varsi) who senses his plight.

At the end of the film, Joe tries to communicate to his doctors, via Morse code, and wishes for the Army to put him in a glass coffin in a freak show as a demonstration of the horrors of war, or kill him. In the end, however, he realizes that the Army will grant neither wish, and will leave him to live the rest of his natural life as a state of living death.

In the film's climax, his nurse attempts to euthanize him by clamping his breathing tube, but her supervisor stops her before Joe can succumb. This does not occur in the novel.



  • The film is well known for distinguishing between Joe's reality and fantasy with black and white for the hospital, and color for his dreams.
  • Joe's face is never seen in the hospital scenes, and his missing limbs are covered by hospital sheets.


The film was entered into the 1971 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury and the FIPRESCI Prize.[1]

In popular culture

The music video for Metallica's 1988 song "One" included many clips and dialogue from the film. Rather than pursue an ongoing license for their use, the band bought the rights to the movie in their entirety.


The film was released on DVD in the U.S on April 28, 2009 via Shout! Factory with special features.


External links

Preceded by
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Grand Prix Spécial du Jury, Cannes
tied with Taking Off
Succeeded by


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