Johnny Got His Gun
James Cagney sang the song as George M. Cohan and acted the part of Joe in Arch Oboler’s radio script. The New York Times reviewer responded to the movie poster and perhaps recalled Oboler’s show, a furious denunciation of militarism (March 9th, 1940).
In 1965, the novel was mooted for Buñuel, whose Robinson Crusoe might be looked at for an idea of his treatment. Trumbo, who was born to direct, was greatly abused by the New York Times for a masterpiece very closely resembling Beckett’s line of thought.
The “big guys” on a tier at the top of the screen set the stage, casualty numbers add a sidereal note at the end.
Legless armless faceless Joe remembers his life, talks to Jesus, receives the ministrations of a kindly nurse. The reality of his position is a critique of Trumbo’s sport, writing.
Trumbo as director misses nothing, Kareen’s gift from her mother (a Roman columnar night painting) like a corridor above the nuptial bed and the scenery of her Faustian visitation, with babe in arms and wed in absence, brought to Joe in his hospital bed.
All of the actors outdo themselves, with all due respect to the Times. The entire venture of Joe’s life is the carnival act manqué that defines Beckett’s position in a certain sense, and the humility of Trumbo’s film, so brilliantly conscious of light in its photographic applications, takes cognizance of the artistic dilemma in ways that reflect Krapp’s Last Tape and Endgame and the trilogy of wartime novels, so that it’s an American idea of Beckett, a great filmgoer and perhaps a reader of Trumbo.