‘Johnny Guitar’ stars Oscar® winner Joan Crawford (Best Actress, Mildred Pierce) as Vienna, a saloon owner with a sordid past. Persecuted by the townspeople, Vienna must protect her life and property when a lynch mob led by her sexually repressed rival, Emma Small (Oscar® winner Mercedes McCambridge, Best Actress, All the King’s Men), attempts to frame her for a string of robberies she did not commit. Enter Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), a guitar-strumming ex-gunfighter, who once was — and perhaps still is — in love with Vienna. With the leads at their operatic best, the table is now set for an epic showdown in this one-of-a-kind western from director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause). A bizarrely veiled allegory for the McCarthy-era Red Scare, Johnny Guitar was misunderstood upon its initial release. One of the most original takes on the western genre — the women are far tougher than the men — Johnny Guitar is praised by fans, filmmakers, and critics alike as groundbreaking. Boasting superb supporting performances, Johnny Guitar features Ernest Borgnine (Marty), Scott Brady (The China Syndrome), Ward Bond (The Searchers), Paul Fix (To Kill a Mockingbird), Royal Dano (The Outlaw Josey Wales) and John Carradine (Stagecoach). Notably, Johnny Guitar’s indelible title song was a collaboration between the Academy Award-winning composer Victor Young (Around the World in Eighty Days), and co-writer and songstress Peggy Lee.
REVIEW: ‘Johnny Guitar,’ recently made available through Olive Signature, is a classic that went unnoticed by this writer. Starring Joan Crawford, Johnny Guitar is a western film that experimented with gender roles before it was Facebook tolerant. ‘Johnny Guitar’ is a film that is better as time reflects on it. I would have to imagine that a lot of audiences in 1955, though enjoying the movie, did not think much of the weirdness that goes on in the picture. It’s almost as if someone took a break from sipping their hashtag filled social justice latte, built a time machine and went back in time to start planting seeds in the mind of middle America that equality is a-ok. But that’s ridiculous.
Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden are magnificent in the film. Never ones to back down from great performances, ‘Johnny Guitar’ is no exception. The stars bring their top game to the film and give the story more credibility than one might expect for a film concept this far outside of the box. By 1955s standards, at least.
VERDICT: Pick up this classic from Olive Signature for your next date night. You may be afforded adult time for your trouble.*
*Editors Note: Chances of sexual intercourse after watching Johnny Guitar are not guaranteed. Icon Vs. Icon accepts no responsibility for any sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancy.
Jeremy Morrison – Staff Writer
Co-creator/host of the Acid Pop Cult Podcast, film reviewer, screenwriter, Jeremy has more than eight years experience in television and film production. His childhood fascination with the naked breasts featured in the “Friday the 13th” franchise prepared him for absolutely nothing in life. J-Mo lives by one motto: #wecantallbezacksnyder