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 <email@example.com>
The film was part of a package that included Roy Chanslor, a former journalist turned screenwriter, who wrote the screenplay especially for Joan Crawford. At the time, Republic was considered the most prestigious of the minor studios and Nicholas Ray's contract with them gave him a great deal of creative freedom despite the film's modest budget. One of the first things he did was hire Philip Yordan for a complete rewrite of the script. Yordan later said, "He collaborated with me less on the dramatic than the architectural level, creating settings like the saloon, working on the geometrical relationships between places." See more »
When Lou from the posse says that he panned every inch of the stream, his lips don't match the sound so it is clearly dubbed. See more »
[Mining crews are blasting up in the nearby hills, making the roads impassable]
They're closing the pass. If you're thinking of running, it's a little late. I've got a hunch the posse will be droppin' in on ya' before night. Same people who paid you a visit yesterday, only they won't be the same. A posse isn't people. I've ridden with 'em, and I've ridden against 'em. A posse is an animal that moves like one and thinks like one.
They're men with itchy fingers and a coil of rope ...
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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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