Johnny Guitar      


Joan Crawford saddles up and rides the range as a tough-talking, gun-toting saloon owner in director Nicholas Ray’s deliciously offbeat Western Melodrama extravaganza, Johnny Guitar!

“Magnificently bizarre! Take a chance and surrender to the most deliriously weird Western ever made.” – Jonathan Rothkopf, Time Out New York

In a dusty Arizona town, pants-wearing, bullet-loving bar owner Vienna (a hard-as-nails Crawford, who also optioned the novel upon which the film was based) stands to rake in the dough when the railroad finally reaches her neck of the woods. No stranger to trouble, Vienna keeps things under control in her rowdy establishment with hot lead and cool put-downs (“Down there I sell whiskey and cards.  All you can buy up these stairs is a bullet in the head.  Now which do you want?”), not to mention her blowtorch stare.   But Vienna’s friendship with a charming outlaw called The Dancing Kid (Scott Brady) jeopardizes her standing in the local community, and when the stage is robbed and a rancher is murdered, the townsfolk ready a noose for The Kid.   And even worse, the insanely jealous cattle baroness, Emma (a frightening Mercedes McCambridge, who later provided the voice of the Devil in The Exorcist), will do anything to repress her forbidden yen for The Kid, even if it means lynching half the town and sending Vienna straight to hell to do it!   Enter Vienna’s old flame, Johnny (Sterling Hayden), who, despite having given up guns for a guitar, is still willing to do what a man’s gotta do, battling bad guys like Ernest Borgnine and Ward Bond and taking his lumps from the scorned and still-angry Vienna, with all the action culminating in one of the bizarre woman-on-woman gunfights in movie history. Only director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause) could pull off this crazed, baroque, emotionally twisted Western, featuring a torrid theme song by Peggy Lee, eye-scorching color cinematography and  a blazing Joan Crawford ruling over all! (Dir. by Nicholas Ray, 1954, USA, 110 mins., Not Rated)