Part of Essential Westerns.
Sun, Sep 30 at 1:45pm: Introduction from Mark Wollaeger, professor of English at Vanderbilt University. BUY TICKETS
Arizona saloon-owner Vienna (Joan Crawford) is biding her time until the new railroad comes in, bringing new customers with it. At odds with her and potential new settlers are local landowners, not the least of whom is rancher Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), and the law is on her side. Hoping to keep an increasingly threatening Emma at bay, Vienna hires her ex-lover Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayen), who unbeknownst to everyone else in town is a notorious gunslinger. Stocked thick with a superb cast of supporting players, Nicholas Ray “phony Western” is one of Hollywood’s strangest, a delirious high-point in both Ray and Crawford’s career, and arguably the zenith of the so-called “feminist Westerns.”
“…The BEAUTY AND THE BEAST of Westerns. The cowboys vanish and die with the grace of ballerinas. The bold, violent color contributes to the sense of strangeness; the hues are vivid, sometimes very beautiful, always unexpected.” —Francois Truffaut “...Upends nearly every convention of the traditional Western. Its eponymous hero is a sensitive soul who wields only six strings, not a six-shooter… The vast majority of the film occurs indoors, using the restricted settings to concentrate focus on the characters’ psychological states… JOHNNY GUITAR still feels radical. Its subverted norms of genre and gender are rendered in vivid images that sear themselves into the brain…” —Jake Cole, Slant