Road Rash Reviews

Johnny Guitar (Masters of Cinema) Review****-

Cert PG | 110 mins | 1954

4 Star

Before Helen Ripley, There Was Vienna!

Based on the novel by prolific writer Roy Chanslor (Bengal Tiger, Cat Ballou) comes a gripping western that shows off the talents of its main star Joan Crawford, delivering in a very clipped fashion that gives every one of her dialogues gravitas. Directed by Nicholas Ray (Flying Leathernecks, Rebel Without a Cause, 55 Days at Peking) a man used to working with the top actors of the silver screen and getting the best out of them.

The sun is high in the sky and a man (Sterling Hayden, The Long Goodbye, The Last Command) with a guitar slung over his shoulder rides alone as explosions ring out in the silent sunshine. The railroad is approaching.

But that is not the only thing going on today near the town of Albuquerque. A town that is run by cattle man John McIvers (Ward Bond, The Maltese Falcon, It’s a Wonderful Life) and the feisty Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men, A Farewell to Arms) and neither of them wants the railroad anywhere near their town. Johnny Guitar sees, from his high vantage point, the stagecoach being held up. The four assailants shoot one of the occupants before riding off. That’s life in the Wild West and Johnny Guitar continues to his destination. ‘Vienna’s’ a place for drinks and cards and a bit of roulette if the fancy takes you’. But the wind has picked up and created a sandstorm, making Vienna’s empty apart from the workers, Tom the kitchen, Sam the croupier and Eddie the roulette. Vienna’s is well out of town, and that is because Vienna (Joan Crawford, Mildred Pierce, The Damned Don’t Cry, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?) had a tip-off from a railway surveyor that said the railway would pass this way, and she has sunk everything into the bar with her co-workers. With introductions over, the excitement begins as Emma and McIvers come in with a posse and Emma is incandescent as she accuses Vienna of being in cahoots with the men that shot her brother who was in the stagecoach. She wants the Dancin’ Kid (Scott Brady, The China Syndrome, Gremlins), Turkey (Ben Cooper, A Perilous Journey, The Rose Tattoo), Corey (Royal Dano, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Moby Dick) and Bart (Ernest Borgnine, The Poseidon Adventure, Escape from New York) and her to hang for their crimes.

Down there I sell whisky and cards. All you can buy up these stairs is a bullet in the head.

In a stand-off between the railroad supporters and the cattle men and woman, McIvers tells them that due to the fact that they have a bar in town, Vienna’s is not needed and wants them out of town in twenty-four hours.

See what happens in those tense hours, old flames and new flames will emerge, and there will be death. You will feel the palpable hate between Crawford and McCambridge in this female led western. Johnny Guitar is a no thrills western with plenty of neuroses that make this a one of a kind of western.

Boy’s who play with guns have to be ready to die like men.

Johnny Guitar (Masters of Cinema) is available on Blu-ray

and the Eureka Store


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DirectorNicholas Ray
GenreDrama, Western
StarringJoan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Scott Brady, Ward Bond
Available to buy on : Own Johnny Guitar on Blu-Ray