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Johnny Guitar (1954)

 -  Drama | Western  -  27 May 1954 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 9,316 users  
Reviews: 96 user | 65 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.

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Title: Johnny Guitar (1954)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Scott Brady ...
...
John McIvers
Ben Cooper ...
Turkey Ralston
...
...
...
Corey
Frank Ferguson ...
Marshal Williams
...
Eddie
...
Mr. Andrews
Ian MacDonald ...
Pete
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Storyline

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

Plot Keywords:

saloon | robbery | railroad | murder | gang | See more »

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 May 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Johnny Guitare  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(Trucolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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's 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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Dancin' Kid: How'd Turkey take it? Hard?
Johnny: You ever know anyone to take a hangin' easy?
See more »


Soundtracks

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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Perverse and fascinating...

"Johnny Guitar" is a perverse and fascinating Western where sexual drive plays an important part in the story... It is known that Emma's madness/hysteria is a result of sexual repression... She detests Vienna, who has her choice of men, when the only man she can stir up herself is ugly Bart... And what is especially enraging for Emma is that while she is desperate for the Kid's love, Vienna, who now has Johnny back, turns the Kid away and still he doesn't stop being loyal to her... Even before Johnny returned to her life, Vienna had reached control over her sexual desires; but Emma hasn't such will power...

Johnny Guitar rides into a small town in the wilds of Arizona... He has been hired to work as guitarist by an aggressive lady of fortune, owner of a saloon-casino... Five years earlier they had been lovers, but he walked out on her, too restless to settle down...

There is a stage robbery, and a banker is killed... Emma Small (Mercedes McCambirdge), the dead man's sister, comes to Vienna's accompanied by the town marshal (Frank Farguson), and the wealthy rancher John McIvers (War Bond), and a bunch of vigilantes...

Emma and McIvers are determined to keep the area an open range for cattle... Emma also despises Vienna because the man she loves, the Dancin'Kid (Scott Brady), is attracted to her... She would rather see the Dancin'Kid dead than with Vienna, and tries to convince her companions that Vienna, the Kid, and the Kid's partners— stingy Bart (Ernest Borgnine), sickly Corey (Royal Dano), and young Turkey (Ben Cooper)—are responsible for her brother's death and should be hanged... Neither the marshal nor her ally McIvers will go along with her without real evidence, but McIvers orders Vienna and the Kid's gang to clear out the town...

That night, Vienna and Johnny admit they still love each lover... They agree to start again, but neither is certain the other can be relied upon... Vienna doesn't like Johnny's violent nature and Johnny is jealous that Vienna has had many lovers...

The following day, the Kid and his three companions decide to rob Emma's bank - figuring that as long as they are being forced to flee the area it might as well be for a genuine crime and not a stage robbery which they had no part in... The bank robbery takes place just as Vienna was withdrawing her money...

Joan Crawford wears black and packs six-guns... She makes all the decisions, initiates the action, and takes the majority of heroic stands—Privileges traditionally denied women in Westerns... Vienna dreams of a railroad and a new town... She wants to remain neutral, and sit and wait for the railroad to come and make her rich... She is at her best when she refuses to allow Emma and the vigilantes to arrest her for the murder of Emma's brother... She sees herself still in love with Johnny... She searches his face in every man she mets... Now she finds it hard keeping the peace between the two men who love her...

As Johnny Guitar, Sterling Hayden is a loner with a past... His character struggles to control hostile impulses... In fact, he begins with true explosion that occurs when he rides across the screen... Soon he finds himself compelled to strap on his gun again to protect his love...

Dressed in a black funeral dress, Mercedes McCambirdge is a highly frustrated Emma who constantly reminds the cattle people that Vienna is a foreigner, having lived in the region only five years... Appealing to their bigotry, she warns them that if the railroad comes through as Vienna plans, dirt farmers will push the cattlemen out of the territory...

As the Dancin'Kid, Scott Brady is a left-handed-draw, leader of a wild bunch, whose only desire is 'to leave the town so broke.' He tosses a coin into the air, promising Johnny Guitar he'll kill him if it turns out "head."

Nicholas Ray will be always remembered for "The Lusty Men," "Run for Cover," "The True Story of Jesse James," and "Johnny Guitar," his first film in color... With great skill, he makes a fantastic Western with two gun-carrying ladies in a showdown to-the-death...


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