+ intro by Helen de Witt, BFI Senior Programme Advisor
Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge excel in this fascinatingly strange Nicholas Ray western that takes in both sexual rivalry and xenophobia.
Dir Nicholas Ray
With Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge
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.