125 user 87 critic

Johnny Guitar (1954)

Not Rated | | Drama, Western | 23 August 1954 (USA)
After helping a wounded gang member, a strong-willed female saloon owner is wrongly suspected of murder and bank robbery by a lynch mob.


Nicholas Ray


Philip Yordan (screenplay), Roy Chanslor (based on novel by)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Joan Crawford ... Vienna
Sterling Hayden ... Johnny 'Guitar' Logan
Mercedes McCambridge ... Emma Small
Scott Brady ... Dancin' Kid
Ward Bond ... John McIvers
Ben Cooper ... Turkey Ralston
Ernest Borgnine ... Bart Lonergan
John Carradine ... Old Tom
Royal Dano ... Corey
Frank Ferguson ... Marshal Williams
Paul Fix ... Eddie
Rhys Williams ... Mr. Andrews
Ian MacDonald ... Pete


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


Joan's Greatest Triumph in this Turbulent, Impassioned Drama! See more »


Drama | Western


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


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 »


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 »


Vienna: Down there I sell whiskey and cards. All you can buy up these stairs is a bullet in the head. Now which do you want?
See more »


Featured in 100 Years of the Hollywood Western (1994) See more »


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

User Reviews

Magical and mythic Western with unerring sense of style
13 May 2011 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Weird and hysterical Western with Freudian touches , dreamlike emotionalism and magnificent dialogue in which is blended domination, humiliation and a deadly confrontation ; resulting to be a fascinating and melodramatic film .The ex-prostitute Vienna (Joan Crawford) , a Gambling Saloon keeper, has built a saloon outside of town, and she wishes to make her own way once the railroad is put through, but the villagers want her run out of town and some of them hanged . Meanwhile the stagecoach is attacked and four men , Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady) and his hoodlums( Brian Cooper, Ernest Borgnine, Royal Dano) come to the saloon . Righteous Vienna stands strong against them, and is aided by the appearance of a gun-toting old flame of hers, Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), who is not what he seems. As Vienna can't drive Guitar out of her head . Meantime the officials (Frank Ferguson , War Bond) pursue the group led by Dancin' Kid and besiege their booth and occurs a lynch mobs . At the ending takes place a long-expected shootout between the two-fisted enemies averted by a woman's insistence.

Love and hate are woven into two protagonists , the fallen angel Joan Crawford and the spinster landowner Mercedes McCambridge ; both of them share a mythical confrontation . Exceptional performances by all casting as top-notch Joan Crawford as gutsy matriarch squabbling over two men , Sterling Hayden as pacifist saddle-tramp who turns a psychopathic temper taking up his pistols and Mercedes McCambridge as nasty and vengeful harpy . Sensational plethora of secondaries as John Carradine , Paul Fix , Rys Williams , among others. Colorful cinematography with a symbolist use in Trucolor by Harry Stradling. Classic and immortal musical score by Victor Young , including unforgettable songs by Peggy Lee . This hypnotic Western with symbolism rampant is marvelously directed by Nicholas Ray , author of various master pieces and hits as Rebel without cause , 55 days at Pekin and many others . Rating : Very good , exceptional and indispensable seeing . Two thumbs up

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Release Date:

23 August 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Johnny Guitar See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

Republic Pictures (I) See more »
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Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Trucolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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