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Big screen classics

Johnny Guitar

Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge excel in this fascinatingly strange Nicholas Ray western that takes in both sexual rivalry and xenophobia.

Image from Johnny Guitar

USA 1954
Dir Nicholas Ray
With Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge
110min
Digital
Certificate PG

Nicholas Ray’s mesmerisingly strange western takes the stock idea of ranchers trying to keep out newcomers and turns it into a heady allegorical fable about xenophobic persecution centred on the sexual rivalries of saloon owner Vienna (Crawford) and repressed, vengeful and well-named harpy Emma Smalls (McCambridge). It’s a splendid, elemental drama ripe for feminist, Freudian and Marxist interpretation.

The screening on Wednesday 19 April 18:00 will be introduced by Helen de Witt, BFI Senior Programme Advisor.

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