© 1954 Republic Pictures

Johnny Guitar (1954)

I have never been found of the Western as a genre, but I really liked Nicolas Ray’s directorial debut, They Live By Night, when I saw it recently, and I always like Joan Crawford in everything not matter how bad it is, so decided to watch this. Crawford often played strong, independent women who had carved out careers for themselves, so although she seems painfully miscast in a Western, she is at least believable as a the owner of a gambling saloon in the middle of nowhere. Sterling Hayden snarls and growls as the towering, guitar-totting title character, but the problem is that it is just too hard to believe that he can’t get over his former lover played by Crawford, who was 11 years older than her co-star. Crawford had such a long career because she was able to gracefully transition to playing older characters, but this one seems out of place in her filmography. The fact that Mercedes McCambridge and Ernest Borgnine are in much smaller roles but manage to upstage them indicates that there was something wrong with the chemistry between the two leads.

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