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Johnny Guitar Details


One of the strangest westerns on record, Johnny Guitar has less in common with Zane Grey than it does with Sigmund Freud and Krafft-Ebbing. The title character, played by Sterling Hayden, is a guitar-strumming drifter who was once the lover of Arizona saloon-owner Vienna (Joan Crawford). Though her establishment doesn't make a dime, Vienna doesn't care because the railroad is going to come in soon, bringing a whole slew of thirsty new customers. This puts her at odds with bulldyke rancher Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), who doesn't want any new settlers on her land. Hating Vienna with a purple passion, Emma will do anything to drive her out of the territory...and even worse, Emma's got the law and the other ranchers on her side. Hoping to keep Emma at bay, Vienna hires Johnny Guitar, who unbeknownst to everyone else in town is a notorious gunslinger. But Johnny prefers to bide his time, waiting for Emma to strike before he makes his move. As a result, Vienna endures several life-threatening experiences, culminating with a feverish chase through the Arizona wilds with lynch-happy Emma and her minions in hot pursuit. According to most sources, the animosity between Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge was quite real, added several extra dimensions to their scenes together. Director Nicholas Ray and screenwriter Philip Yordan stuff the film with so much sexual symbolism that one wonders why they left out a train going into a tunnel. Ms. Crawford's vivid red-and-blue wardrobe scheme was later appropriated by Ray for James Dean in James Dean--with equally stunning results. In addition to the stars, Johnny Guitar is well stocked with reliable supporting players, including Ernest Borgnine, Ben Cooper, Royal Dano (superb as a consumptive, book-reading hired gun) and Paul Fix. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:May 27, 1954


Joan Crawford
as Vienna
Sterling Hayden
as Johnny Guitar
Mercedes McCambridge
as Emma Small
Scott Brady
as Dancin'Kid
Ward Bond
as John McIvers
Ernest Borgnine
as Bart Lonergan
Ben Cooper
as Turkey Ralston
John Carradine
as Old Tom
Royal Dano
as Corey
Paul Fix
as Eddie
Frank Ferguson
as Marshal Williams
Rhys Williams
as Mr. Andrews
Ian MacDonald
as Pete
Sumner Williams
as Posseman
Trevor Bardette
as Jenks
Clem Harvey
as Posse
Sheb Wooley
as Posseman
Frank Marlowe
as Frank
Will Wright
as Ned
Robert Osterloh
as Sam
Denver Pyle
as Posseman


Nicholas Ray
Herbert J. Yates
Philip Yordan
Roy Chanslor
Book Author
Harry Stradling
Peggy Lee
Victor Young
Composer (Music Score)
John McCarthy
Production Designer
John McCarthy
Set Designer
Sheila O'Brien
Costume Designer
Theodore Lydecker
Special Effects
Howard Lydecker
Special Effects
Bob Mark