The most complete, newly restored version of Nicholas Ray's experimental masterpiece embodies the director's practice of filmmaking as a "communal way of life." Ray plays himself in the ... See full summary »
The last eighteen years in the life of Jesse James, showing his home life in Missouri, his experiences with Quantrill's raiders, his career of banditry with his brother Frank and the ... See full summary »
When he sustains a rodeo injury, star rider Jeff McCloud returns to his hometown after many years of absence. He signs on as a hired hand with a local ranch, where he befriends fellow ranch... See full summary »
Vienna has built a saloon outside of town, and she hopes to build her own town once the railroad is put through, but the townsfolk want her gone. When four men hold up a stagecoach and kill a man the town officials, led by Emma Small, come to the saloon to grab four of Vienna's friends, the Dancin' Kid and his men. Vienna stands strong against them, and is aided by the presence of an old acquaintance of hers, Johnny Guitar, who is not what he seems. Written by
Ed Sutton <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Boy this is a jewel, and for many different reasons. A good lot of people deserve credit for their work
First is Nicholas Ray for his direction. A fine preparation and presentation of the visual elements really took some doing. The use, but not excessive glorification (thank goodness), of the relatively new Trucolor is well-done; the horses full of black-clad riders rushing up the rocky hill in the night, the many shots of the furious blazes dissolving Vienna's place, and so much more.
The acting is remarkable. Sterling Heyden, just in standing before the camera and delivering his lines in that firm and fearless manner (ala Asphalt Jungle), is a strong presence. John Carradine once again shows himself as the precious dramatist he proved himself to be many years before in The Grapes of Wrath.
What strikes me the most, though, is Ben Maddow's (thank Phillip Yordan for being an heroic front) screenplay. It is not only thick in theme and symbolism, it is thick with what was (at the time) almost unprecedented elements. Both Vienna and Emma are, as either GOOD or BAD, shown as the leaders of men! Pacifism is being shown as a good thing! Is that the good guys wearing black and the bad guys wearing white (or maybe the other way around)?! As many comments have mentioned, the Un-American Activities Committee parallels (complete with the entire Ox-Bow-esquire element) are, really, quite thinly veiled. The economically powerful, Small and McIver, are dominant and monopolistic capitalists (a version of antagonism almost unseen, for obvious reasons, since the McCarthey-assaulted Force of Evil). Remember, this is 1954!!!! This stuff is downright revolutionary! How did they ever get it all past the censors and masters of the code?
Let's hope time doesn't forget this one in favor of some formulaic shoot-'em-ups simply because they feature "the Duke."
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