112 user 79 critic

Johnny Guitar (1954)

Unrated | | Drama, Western | 23 August 1954 (USA)
After helping a wounded gang member, a strong-willed female saloon owner is wrongly suspected of murder and bank robbery by a lynch mob.



(screenplay), (novel)

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Pilot for a proposed western series about a footloose, guitar-strumming cowboy who helps folks with their problems. In the pilot episode, Johnny is hired to provide music for a wedding and ... See full summary »

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Complete credited cast:
John McIvers
Mr. Andrews


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 <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Caught in the crossfire of danger and desire. See more »


Drama | Western


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 August 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Johnny Guitar - Gejagt, gehaßt, gefürchtet  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


By most accounts, Sterling Hayden was always difficult to work with. Joan Crawford, not the easiest person to work with, called Hayden "the biggest pill in Hollywood." See more »


In the first long scene, ostensibly one uninterrupted time sequence, Vienna wears three very different shades of lipstick: first a bright magenta, then a dark tomato red, then a medium carmine shade. See more »


Vienna: [Referring to her long-ago love for Johnny Guitar] When a fire burns itself out, all you have left is ashes.
See more »


Featured in Johnny Guitar: A Feminist Western? (2016) See more »


Johnny Guitar
by Peggy Lee and Victor Young
Sung by Peggy Lee
Heard instrumentally over the opening credits and throughout the film
Played on the piano by Joan Crawford (dubbed)
Sung partially at the end by Peggy Lee
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User Reviews

Magical and mythic Western with unerring sense of style
13 May 2011 | by See all my reviews

Weird and hysterical Western with Freudian touches , dreamlike emotionalism and magnificent dialogue in which is blended domination, humiliation and a deadly confrontation ; resulting to be a fascinating and melodramatic film .The ex-prostitute Vienna (Joan Crawford) , a Gambling Saloon keeper, has built a saloon outside of town, and she wishes to make her own way once the railroad is put through, but the villagers want her run out of town and some of them hanged . Meanwhile the stagecoach is attacked and four men , Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady) and his hoodlums( Brian Cooper, Ernest Borgnine, Royal Dano) come to the saloon . Righteous Vienna stands strong against them, and is aided by the appearance of a gun-toting old flame of hers, Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), who is not what he seems. As Vienna can't drive Guitar out of her head . Meantime the officials (Frank Ferguson , War Bond) pursue the group led by Dancin' Kid and besiege their booth and occurs a lynch mobs . At the ending takes place a long-expected shootout between the two-fisted enemies averted by a woman's insistence.

Love and hate are woven into two protagonists , the fallen angel Joan Crawford and the spinster landowner Mercedes McCambridge ; both of them share a mythical confrontation . Exceptional performances by all casting as top-notch Joan Crawford as gutsy matriarch squabbling over two men , Sterling Hayden as pacifist saddle-tramp who turns a psychopathic temper taking up his pistols and Mercedes McCambridge as nasty and vengeful harpy . Sensational plethora of secondaries as John Carradine , Paul Fix , Rys Williams , among others. Colorful cinematography with a symbolist use in Trucolor by Harry Stradling. Classic and immortal musical score by Victor Young , including unforgettable songs by Peggy Lee . This hypnotic Western with symbolism rampant is marvelously directed by Nicholas Ray , author of various master pieces and hits as Rebel without cause , 55 days at Pekin and many others . Rating : Very good , exceptional and indispensable seeing . Two thumbs up

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