Trumbo lays on every emotional effect and then some to get across his tale of a World War I casualty left limbless, faceless, deaf, dumb and blind, confined to a semi-existence in a hospital back room, who learns to communicate with the world through a painful morse code tapped out with his head on the pillow, and whose final request - that people be allowed to see him or that he be allowed to die - is refused. Trumbo adapted his own novel, incredibly based on fact, some thirty years after he wrote it, and he tells the seemingly unfilmable story through a sustained interior monologue and a series of flashbacks to Johnny's childhood, his failure of a shoe-salesman father, his job in the local bakery, his first-and-last night with his girl before leaving for the front, and through a series of fantasy sequences (the most effective involving Donald Sutherland as Christ). The film is often sentimental, sometimes brilliant as well as horrifying, and it is intriguing to speculate on what Buñuel, whom Trumbo originally wanted to direct, would have made of it.
Johnny Got His Gun
Cast and crew