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Big screen classics

Johnny Guitar

Nicholas Ray’s feminist/Freudian/Marxist western portrays deadly rivalries with a vivid, almost hallucinatory intensity.

Image from Johnny Guitar

USA 1954
Dir Nicholas Ray
With Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Scott Brady
Digital 4K
Certificate PG

Nicholas Ray’s remarkable western sees bar-owner Vienna (Crawford) and hired-hand Johnny (Hayden) caught between a gang of prospectors suspected of a robbery and the local farmers whipped up by repressed psychotic Emma (McCambridge), who hates almost everyone. This portrait of a bitterly divided community – a Freudian, feminist or Marxist allegory? – was a rich response to the McCarthy witchhunts, and it remains all too relevant.


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