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Trumbo Family, Film Cast and Crew Attend ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ Screening

26 May, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

Shout! Factory’s Brian Blum, American Cinematheque’s Martin Lewis, Christopher Trumbo and Jules Brenner.

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Everyone involved with Johnny Got His Gun, the 1971 anti-war film from previously blacklisted director Dalton Trumbo, has the same thing to say about the film finally seeing a DVD release: It’s about time.

Previously on laserdisc, VHS, other region DVD and bootleg Region 1 DVD, Shout! Factory finally gave the emotional and often disturbing film a proper DVD release in April. On May 21, Trumbo family members and cast and crew of the film attended a screening of the film in Hollywood.

“We’ve shown some absolutely wonderful, rare films,” said Martin Lewis, board member for American Cinematheque, which hosted the event. “But this was the most devastating movie I had ever seen. It stuck with me. When I heard Shout! Factory was putting out the DVD, I was excited. [Trumbo] went to jail for his work, and he made this film because no one else had the [nerve].”

The film, based on Trumbo’s own novel, follows the tortured existence of a quadruple amputee, a soldier who has also lost his ears, eyes, mouth and nose. It was released in 1971, five years before Trumbo’s death, and 21 years after he was blacklisted over accusations of Communism and imprisoned for nearly a year. Trumbo’s son, Christopher, who was also associate producer for the film, said Johnny Got His Gun looks the best it ever has on Shout! Factory’s DVD.

“This film languished unnoticed for a very long time, and I’m very happy Shout! Factory took the time and effort, not only with the picture, but the extras,” he said.

Brian Blum, director of DVD production for Shout! Factory, said this DVD project was especially close to his heart.

“We really gave it the all-star treatment. It’s as disturbing a film as it is an important one,” he said. “The transfer is impeccable.”

Cinematographer Jules Brenner praised Shout! Factory for bringing together an “unbelievable” package of special features. “I’ve kept track of where you can get copies of the film for years, and none have together a package like this,” he said.

The DVD includes a limited edition reproduction of the film poster, a 60-minute feature about Dalton Trumbo, an interview with actor Timothy Bottoms, behind-the-scenes footage with a commentary by Brenner and Bottoms, the original trailer, the Metallica music video of their song “One,” which used footage from the film, and a 1940 radio adaptation for the story with James Cagney.

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