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Johnny Guitar

Released May 27, 1954 1h 50m Western List
94% Tomatometer 51 Reviews 85% Audience Score 2,500+ Ratings
On the outskirts of town, the hard-nosed Vienna (Joan Crawford) owns a saloon frequented by the undesirables of the region, including Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady) and his gang. Another patron of Vienna's establishment is Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), a former gunslinger and her lover. When a heist is pulled in town that results in a man's death, Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), Vienna's rival, rallies the townsfolk to take revenge on Vienna's saloon -- even without proof of her wrongdoing. Read More Read Less
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Johnny Guitar

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Critics Consensus

Johnny Guitar confidently strides through genre conventions, emerging with a brilliant statement that transcends its period setting -- and left an indelible mark.

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Critics Reviews

View All (51) Critics Reviews
Anton Bitel Little White Lies Ray's film is a western, but it is also an amplified melodrama, with a rich seam of deviant psychology just waiting to be disinterred from its dusty surface. Its time has come. Sep 20, 2021 Full Review Roger Ebert RogerEbert.com A cheap Western from Republic Pictures, yes. And also one of the boldest and most stylized films of its time, quirky, political, twisted. Rated: 4/4 Jan 24, 2018 Full Review Peter Bradshaw Guardian Unforgettably strange and brilliant. Rated: 5/5 May 5, 2016 Full Review Ray Pride Newcity Nicholas Ray’s gaudy masterpiece the almost “too modern for me” psychological wowser... a stylized, poetic Western like no other... Want to talk hot, burning Trucolor? Want to talk blurred gender roles? Let’s talk Joan Crawford and Sterling Hayden. Rated: 10/10 Jul 4, 2024 Full Review Dennis Harvey 48 Hills Johnny Guitar is a classic, and god knows it has camp value, but it’s not exactly a “camp classic.” Its excesses are all very deliberate, not some accident of ineptitude or bad taste. Sep 20, 2023 Full Review Zita Short InSession Film Johnny Guitar has the benefit of featuring a performance from the greatest movie star of all time. Whenever Joan Crawford shows up in a film, you know that she is going to command your attention and Nicholas Ray seems to be aware of the fact. Feb 1, 2023 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (265) audience reviews
Jeff S A good Western with some fabulous dialogue made into an excellent film by a mesmerizing Joan Crawford. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 03/11/24 Full Review Steve D Great western with a cast equal to the story. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/24/24 Full Review Bill B An estrogen western where opposing forces are led by women. Stagey, soapy, and too many tough guys posturing all over the place, with the action mostly at the end. Overrated. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 08/15/23 Full Review Jared Z It's easily about 20 minutes longer than it needs to be and the ending is a bit too abrupt, but Johnny Guitar is still a memorable film, driven more by its female leads than its male leads, quite unusual for the genre, especially during the 1950s. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/23/23 Full Review Amanda M Johnny Guitar is really two movies: a hard-hitting critique of McCarthyism, wrapped inside a campy western with a ridiculous storyline. The silly costumes and Old West setting seem to be the only reasons this 1954 attack on HUAC made it to the screen in the first place. Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge) is a perfect Roy Cohn on a mad, self-loathing crusade against Vienna (Joan Crawford), rallying a rural population terrified of an imagined invasion from the East. Combine that with Ms. Crawford's nonsensical costume changes, and some segments of unintentionally funny dialogue, and Johnny Guitar is must-see for anyone with an interest in the history of American filmmaking. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/17/23 Full Review Audience Member The first few moments of the movie give a glimpse of what's to come. This is an action-packed Western drama with a revolutionary plot as well as great direction by Nicholas Ray. Joan Crawford's eye-catching appearance could be enough by itself, especially with her great performance in a movie of this genre, but then again who better to give the melodrama its appeal. Still, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, and the others give no less-compelling performances, adding even more essence to Crawford's input. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/29/23 Full Review Read all reviews
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Movie Info

Synopsis On the outskirts of town, the hard-nosed Vienna (Joan Crawford) owns a saloon frequented by the undesirables of the region, including Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady) and his gang. Another patron of Vienna's establishment is Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), a former gunslinger and her lover. When a heist is pulled in town that results in a man's death, Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), Vienna's rival, rallies the townsfolk to take revenge on Vienna's saloon -- even without proof of her wrongdoing.
Director
Nicholas Ray
Producer
Nicholas Ray
Screenwriter
Roy Chanslor, Philip Yordan
Distributor
Republic Pictures
Production Co
Republic Pictures Corporation
Genre
Western
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
May 27, 1954, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Nov 6, 2014
Runtime
1h 50m
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