Johnny Guitar

Johnny Guitar

Director: Nicholas Ray

Cast: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge

     
 

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One of the strangest westerns on record, Johnny Guitar has less in common with Zane Grey than it does with Sigmund Freud and Krafft-Ebbing. The title character, played by Sterling Hayden, is a guitar-strumming drifter who was once the lover of Arizona saloon-owner Vienna (Joan Crawford). Though her establishment doesn't make a dime, Vienna doesn't care becauseSee more details below

Overview

One of the strangest westerns on record, Johnny Guitar has less in common with Zane Grey than it does with Sigmund Freud and Krafft-Ebbing. The title character, played by Sterling Hayden, is a guitar-strumming drifter who was once the lover of Arizona saloon-owner Vienna (Joan Crawford). Though her establishment doesn't make a dime, Vienna doesn't care because the railroad is going to come in soon, bringing a whole slew of thirsty new customers. This puts her at odds with bulldyke rancher Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), who doesn't want any new settlers on her land. Hating Vienna with a purple passion, Emma will do anything to drive her out of the territory...and even worse, Emma's got the law and the other ranchers on her side. Hoping to keep Emma at bay, Vienna hires Johnny Guitar, who unbeknownst to everyone else in town is a notorious gunslinger. But Johnny prefers to bide his time, waiting for Emma to strike before he makes his move. As a result, Vienna endures several life-threatening experiences, culminating with a feverish chase through the Arizona wilds with lynch-happy Emma and her minions in hot pursuit. According to most sources, the animosity between Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge was quite real, added several extra dimensions to their scenes together. Director Nicholas Ray and screenwriter Philip Yordan stuff the film with so much sexual symbolism that one wonders why they left out a train going into a tunnel. Ms. Crawford's vivid red-and-blue wardrobe scheme was later appropriated by Ray for James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause--with equally stunning results. In addition to the stars, Johnny Guitar is well stocked with reliable supporting players, including Ernest Borgnine, Ben Cooper, Royal Dano (superb as a consumptive, book-reading hired gun) and Paul Fix.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Few Westerns more obviously begged the question "What was the studio thinking?" than Nicholas Ray's brilliantly perverse Johnny Guitar. Ray had a knack for finding subversive subtexts in standard material, and on the surface Johnny Guitar's outlaws on the run, factions battling over a town's future, and love and betrayal among the tumbleweeds seem like the stuff of a typical Western. But in Johnny Guitar, nearly all the men are unwilling or afraid to fight, the action is dominated by two aggressive women who hate each other (but are also oddly drawn to each other), the title character is at once the lover and the employee of the female lead, and her arch-rival is driven to near-psychotic hatred and violence by unrequited affection for a handsome outlaw. Lust rules nearly everyone in this film, and in ways that generally fall outside the boundaries of mainstream Hollywood's sexual economy; one look at Joan Crawford's butch Western outfit, complete with string tie, should be enough to signal that this isn't an ordinary sagebrush shoot-'em-up. Ray plays this saga of unusual appetites in a hyper-emotional style against a broad and colorful backdrop, and the result feels more like an opera than a Western, as Martin Scorsese has pointed out. Throw in an allegory of 1950s anti-Communist blacklisting, the bold visual style, Victor Young's moody score, and the con brio performances of Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge, and Sterling Hayden and you have a unique movie that's fascinating and entertaining throughout.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/07/2012
UPC:
0887090044707
Original Release:
1954
Rating:
NR
Source:
Olive Films
Region Code:
1
Time:
1:50:00
Sales rank:
22,873

Special Features

Martin Scorsese introduction of JOhnny Guitar

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Joan Crawford Vienna
Sterling Hayden Johnny Guitar
Mercedes McCambridge Emma Small
Scott Brady Dancin'Kid
Ward Bond John McIvers
Ernest Borgnine Bart Lonergan
Ben Cooper Turkey Ralston
Royal Dano Corey
Paul Fix Eddie
John Carradine Old Tom
Frank Ferguson Marshal Williams
Rhys Williams Mr. Andrews
Ian MacDonald Pete
Frank Marlowe Frank
Trevor Bardette Jenks
Clem Harvey Posse
John Maxwell Jake
Robert Osterloh Sam
Denver Pyle Posseman
Sumner Williams Posseman
Sheb Wooley Posseman
Will Wright Ned

Technical Credits
Nicholas Ray Director
Edward Boyle Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
T.A. Carman Sound/Sound Designer
Peggy Lee Songwriter
Howard Lydecker Special Effects
Theodore Lydecker Special Effects
Bob Mark Makeup
John McCarthy Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
Sheila O'Brien Costumes/Costume Designer
Harry Stradling Cinematographer
James Sullivan Art Director
Richard Van Enger Editor
Howard Wilson Sound/Sound Designer
Herbert J. Yates Producer
Philip Yordan Screenwriter
Victor Young Score Composer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Johnny Guitar
1. Opening [:00]
2. The Scorned & the Accused [9:05]
3. Triangle [14:06]
4. Johnny Logan [9:56]
5. Withdrawl & Robbery [14:10]
6. Run For Cover [10:02]
7. Lynch Mob [13:01]
8. The Last Stand [19:43]

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