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National Science and Media Museum

Forty Guns (PG)

Most famous for his war films and crime dramas, American director Samuel Fuller also directed westerns, his last being Forty Guns—a striking black-and-white CinemaScope feature.

Starring Barbara Stanwyck as fearsome landowner Jessica Drummond, the film bears similarities to film noir, with Stanwyck acting as the femme fatale. This moody, modest classic inspired techniques that later became associated with the ‘Spaghetti Western’.


This screening will be introduced by broadcaster and writer Samira Ahmed.

An award-winning broadcaster, journalist and documentary maker, Samira presents Front Row on Radio 4 and Newswatch on BBC1 and the BBC News Channel. Her Archive on Four episode ‘Riding Into Town’ examined her love of westerns. Her radio documentaries explore her fascination with the intersection of culture, politics and social change, and include I Dressed Ziggy Stardust, The Fundamentalist Queen, HG Wells and the H Bomb and Laura Ingalls’ America. She is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and a Visiting Professor of Journalism at Kingston University.

Part of Women in Widescreen

Characters: Barbara Stanwyck as the film’s antagonist, Jessica Drummond

Impact: Writer and director Samuel Fuller was known for creating female characters who were just as complicated and fearless as their male counterparts. Placing a woman at the centre of his western was a highly unusual move, extremely progressive for the time.

Read more about Women in Widescreen