View Full Version : Johnny Guitar
12-30-2002, 09:13 PM
One of the best Westerns of the 1950s that would have an impact on the style and mood of the spaghetti westerns in the 1960s and early 1970s. I hope that this will get a DVD release in 2003 as well as many others from Artisan.
12-30-2002, 10:03 PM
Great western. If I did a top 10 or 12, I'm sure it would be in there. Great to look at as well. Great subversion of gender roles. Really a unique, but thoroughly successful approach to this normally conservative genre.
12-31-2002, 03:45 PM
One Western, which is similar on one aspect with Johnny Guitar is Rancho Notorious.
12-31-2002, 08:19 PM
Very strange little film, but certainly interesting. With great character actors like Sterling Hayden and Ernest Borgnine, it's hard to go wrong.
01-01-2003, 04:35 AM
I have both RANCHO NOTORIOUS (1952) and JOHNNY GUITAR (1954) on VHS, neither of which is your typical Good-vs.-Evil, or Cowboys-vs.-Indians Western. But then neither are Fritz Lang and Nicholas Ray, the two films’ respective directors, that much associated with the genre.
Both films deal with violent and long-drawn out revenge and, in fact, one could call them ‘Psycho-Westerns’: both scripts are full of tough (and occasionally overwritten) dialogue – Daniel Taradash wrote RANCHO NOTORIOUS, whereas JOHNNNY GUITAR was scripted by Philip Yordan, who always imbued his Westerns with a little more gravity and complexity than was usual for the genre, as in films like BROKEN LANCE (1954; inspired by Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, no less!), THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955), THE BRAVADOS (1958) and DAY OF THE OUTLAW (1959).
Another important aspect is the color cinematography by Hal Mohr and Harry Stradling Sr. respectively: both Lang and Ray had reveled in the gritty film noirs of the post-war era, and here they simply transferred their expressionistic sensibilities to the Western landscape, with the added dimension of garish color. Another couple of film noir veterans, Anthony Mann and Budd Boetticher contemporaneously made the famous series of Westerns with James Stewart and Randolph Scott respectively, themselves prime examples of this nascent maturity in the genre, or if you like a subversion of the old standards.
It’s also interesting that while in RANCHO NOTORIOUS you have two men (Arthur Kennedy and Mel Ferrer) fighting over one woman (Marlene Dietrich playing a character named Altar!), in JOHNNY GUITAR the situation is reversed: two women (Joan Crawford as Vienna [!] and Mercedes McCambridge) and one man (Sterling Hayden). The supporting cast of both films, filled with established character actors and rising stars, aid a lot in grounding them into a plausible Western reality, thus making them palatable to the average fan, instead of toppling over into pretentiousness and potential absurdity.
I’m not sure what material could be assembled for these two films were they to be released on DVD, though my VHS copy of JOHNNY GUITAR features an enthusiastic on-camera appreciation by Martin Scorsese. I haven’t watched them in quite a while, though, so I cannot say whether the films need to undergo some sort of restoration before they can receive a definitive presentation on disc which, as both titles now belong to Artisan, is not very likely in view of their recent mishandling of John Ford’s THE QUIET MAN (1952) on its “Collector’s Edition” DVD!
01-19-2005, 08:07 PM
Also, both JG and RN deserve a DVD release.
07-13-2006, 10:47 AM
The rivalry between Crawford and McCambridge is one of the interesting aspects of the film.
Randy Thomas G
07-14-2006, 06:16 AM
This film seems 'camp' before the term existed. The lesbian subtext is quite funny and the scene when McCambridge straps on the six shooters is thrilling and subversive for the period.
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