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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>
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 »
In the beginning of the film, when Johnny Guitar passes by the miners riding, his shadow is projected to his left side. In the next shot it is projected to his right side. See more »
If you remember, McGyvers gave me 24 hours to close. I drew out my own money, paid off my boys... and I'm closed. You can't buy a drink or turn a card. I'm sitting here in my own house, minding my own business, playing my own piano. I don't think you can make a crime out of that.
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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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