The new film, based on the 1982 stage adaptation penned by Bradley Rand Smith, stars "O.C." cast member Ben McKenzie as its sole performer. Under the direction of Rowan Joseph, "Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun" captures the solo play as performed onstage by McKenzie. Much of the dialogue has been culled directly from Trumbo's original novel.
Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun premiered Off-Broadway at the Circle Repertory Theatre in 1982, running only 27 performances. Jeff Daniels earned an Obie Award for his performance.
Rowan Joseph and producing partner Shane Partlow originally set out to produce a national tour of Johnny Got His Gun to coincide with the 2008 presidential elections. However, upon viewing the Lincoln Center Library archival footage of the 1982 play, Joseph discovered that the first 20 minutes of the production had been lost in the transfer from VHS to digital format.
"I was just devastated," Joseph said in a statement. "I went back to the monitor and watched the remainder of the video. When it was over I sat there, once again, with tears in my eyes, but for a very different reason. I could not believe that the only recorded version of the play, the original production of the play, was essentially gone forever."
It was then that Joseph and Partlow decided to scrap the tour, and instead, film the play on stage so that Trumbo's work would be captured in its entirety for future generations. The black-box presentation of Johnny Got His Gun centers on an American soldier who is wounded on the last day of World War I. McKenzie stars as Joe Bonham, "a quadruple amputee who has also lost his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Regaining consciousness, Joe discovers that while his brain is healthy and able to reason, the rest of his body is irreparably shattered, leaving him trapped forever within the confines of his own imagination. He struggles valiantly to find some way to communicate with the outside world. Tapping his head in Morse code, he breaks through and pleads with his caretakers to be put on display as a living example of the cost of war," press notes state.
Creative duties for the film are handled by Denitsa Bliznakova (costume design), Keith Mitchell (art direction), Leigh Allen (theatrical lighting design), Michael D. Mortilla (music and sound designer), Jay Cassidy (film editor) and Andrew K. Sachs (A.C.E. director of photography).
A portion of the proceeds from the film are being donated to the Fallen Patriot Fund, a non-profit organization established to help families of U.S. military personnel who were killed or seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Austin, TX, premiere of "Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun" will serve as a fundraiser for the organization.
Following its world premiere, "Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun" will open in Berkeley, CA (Oct. 10), New York, NY (Oct. 24), Reading, PA (Nov. 7) and Los Angeles, CA (Nov. 14).
For further information on "Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun" visit JohnnyGotHisGun.