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Johnny Guitar (1954)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Western  |  27 May 1954 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 10,450 users  
Reviews: 106 user | 67 critic

A strong willed female saloon owner is wrongly suspected of murder and bank robbery by a lynch mob, when she helps a wounded gang member.



(screenplay), (novel), 2 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
John McIvers
Ben Cooper ...
Turkey Ralston
Marshal Williams
Mr. Andrews
Ian MacDonald ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Gun-Queen of the Arizona Frontier ! . . . and her kind of men !!!


Drama | Western


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 May 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Johnny Guitare  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Penny Stallings' "Flesh and Fantasy", the crew broke into spontaneous applause after one of Mercedes McCambridge's powerhouse scenes, which infuriated star Joan Crawford. According to Nicholas Ray, he then began shooting the younger actress' scenes in the early morning before Crawford got there. After the star witnessed one of these early shoots, she flew into a rage, broke into McCambridge's dressing room and slashed her clothes to shreds. McCambridge blamed her next two years of inactivity on Crawford's repeated attempts to blacklist her. See more »


When Johnny has the shootout with Bart in front of the hill-top cabin, in the background we can see Vienna standing on the deck of the cabin, her body all the way to the timber railing. She is in sunlight. Then the view of her goes to a closeup, but now she is standing inside the door opening - in what is obviously a studio shot. This is probably connected to the fact that Joan Crawford insisted on her close-ups only being filmed in the studio, where the lighting could be rigidly controlled. No close-up of her was ever shot while on location. See more »


Johnny: There's nothin' like a good smoke and a cuppa' coffee. You know, some men got the craving for gold and silver. Others need lotsa' land, with herds of cattle. And then there's those that got the weakness for whiskey, and for women. When you boil it all down, what does a man really need? Just a smoke and a cup of coffee.
Marshal Williams: And who are you?
Johnny: The name, sir, is Johnny Guitar.
Dancin' Kid: [Scornfully] That's no name!
Johnny: [Cooly] Anybody care to change it?
Vienna: I hired you to play the guitar, not insult my customers.
Johnny: Well, if ...
See more »


Referenced in Madrid (1987) See more »


Old Joe Clark
Played on the guitar by Sterling Hayden (dubbed)
See more »

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User Reviews

A Shakespearian western
4 February 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I was 15 the very first time I watched this wonderful movie, and from that moment it became a kind of cult classic, a cinema icon, for me. I had to wait over ten years to be able to enjoy it again, and by this time it had reached the category of legend on my personal film paradise. The great score by Victor Young, which I never could forget, is probably the most romantic and sentimental music ever composed for the screen, with the Johnny Guitar theme, with the voice of Peggy Lee, bringing us the fascination of the legend they called Johnny Guitar. Also the fantastic colourful images, with those reddish tones of fire and passion, and the backgrounds, the landmarks, the characters and the sutile and perfect dialogues, make this film a total masterpiece or modern cinema. A western without savages, cavalry, rodeos, and the usual John Ford stuff. A different western, ahead of its time, and very misunderstood by the public then, but, fortunately, reborn from the limbo and forgiveness, rediscovered by new generations, and still alive, fresh as in its first day, and always inmortal. Joan Crawford was never so great, and the exchange of poisoned words with McCambridge at the saloon "You haven't got the nerve" , and "If I don't kill you first" on reply to "I'll kill you" by Emma, makes me to smile, as both characters show they wear the trousers rather than the men do. In short, there never was a film like Johnny Guitar, and there never will. Now, on its 50th aniversary, it is time to enjoy it once more, and to wish that we could have been at Vienna's, being part of that group of characters with no equal in cinema iconography.

41 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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