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 »
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>
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 »
You all think she's some fine lady and that doing nothing makes you fine gentlemen. Well she ain't! And you're not!
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Hard to know what to say about this florid concoction except that it's truly one of a kind. Taken as a western, it's plain god-awful. Taken as parody of a western, it's sharp as a doorknob. Taken as an experiment in Technicolor, I can think of cheaper ways. To me, the movie is best taken as a collection of insider indulgence. How else to explain Crawford's Park Avenue get-up, or her desert island casino, or McCambridge's manly fierceness, or a bookish bank-robber, or a showdown for toughest woman of Lesbos.
Now, scholars can play around with symbolism all they want. But first, the subject has to be interesting enough to play with. Seems to me there are worthier movie subjects than this one for analysis. Sure, I've read how the story's really a color-coded allegory of McCarthyism, with the black-clad posse as HUAC and the bank robbers as commies. After all, the Dancin' Kid is left-handed and the gang does stick together and they do rob banks. Probably this is as good a subtext reading as any, that is, if you're looking for some such. Me, I just take it as a slice of Hollywood weirdness with Crawford playing dress-up and in charge, with the estimable Nick Ray trailing somewhere behind.
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