Friday, May 1, 2015

Joan Crawford Week: Johnny Guitar

Howdy folks and welcome to Day 4 of Joan Crawford Week. We are a moseyin' into Old Timey West with Ms. Crawford today as we enjoy a Western that gender swaps making Crawford the real hero of the flick and Sterling Hayden the plucky heroine?? With this amazing cast and direction by Nicolas Ray (Flying Leathernecks, On Dangerous Ground, The Lusty Men, Run for Cover, Rebel Without a Cause and Bitter Victory) it is a wonder why this is only a cult classic and not a much more beloved western. This is Johnny Guitar.


Our opening sequence is Johnny Logan (Sterling Hayden of Battle Taxi, Timberjack, The Last Command, The Killing, Valerie and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) riding away from a series of explosions through a hillside. I mean this is action hero worthy of his stalwart bad-ass self.

In a town of the outskirts of Sedona Arizona, this cattle town (amazingly enough more than one horse) a smart, aggressive saloon owner and operator Vienna (Joan Crawford of Grand Hotel, The Women, Susan and God, Possessed, Flamingo Road and The Damned Don't Cry) supports the coming track of a new railroad in spite of the rest of the townsfolk declaring it will be the end of their way of life. She even allows the The Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady of Blood Arrow, Shotgun Slade, Five Bloody Graves, Hell's Bloody Angels, Bonnie's Kids and Police Story) and his compatriots to enjoy the saloon, gambling and liquor a plenty.

Crap! Are they mining out here??!!!

The lead cattle rancher with the most head of cattle and acreage, John McIvers (Ward Bond of The Maltese Falcon, It's a Wonderful Life, The Searchers Wagon Train and Rio Bravo) gots a cactus burr in his rear saddle about how Vienna is a doin' things around these here parts are determined to run Vienna out of town and a previous stick-up of the stage coach is a good enough reason to lay blame. Ah, mob mentality. Vienna doesn't give them an inch and refuses to back down with a little bit of help from Johnny Guitar himself they shoo these cowpokes out easily. Vienna and Johny seem to have one of the hotter love/hate relationships as they banter, snark and flirt back and forth through the better portion of the second act until McIvers tells them that they and the Dancin' Kid and crew have just 24 hours to skidaddle or shootin' irons will do all their talking.

Will the Kid and crew give the town a major shoot up? Will McIvers get the surgery needed to pull that stick out of his ass? Will Vienna and Johnny ever make heads or tails of their past and present relationship?

A tiny amount of trivia on the flick. With theme song by Peggy Lee and Victor Young, the instrumental is played throughout the movie. Filmed in Mono this film also used the tired concept of Trucolor prior to Technocolor... Watch it in black and white, folks. So much better and people don't look peach colored that way.

Joan Crawford insisted on her close-ups only to be filmed in the studio, where the lighting could be controlled. Not one of her close-ups was shot on location. Sterling Hayden stated: "There is not enough money in Hollywood to lure me into make another picture with Joan Crawford. And I like money."

Yup, that's me, Johnny.