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Published on Jun 12, 2012
Johnny Guitar is a Western drama film starring Sterling Hayden, Joan Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge, Scott Brady and directed by Nicholas Ray. The plot is set in boundless Arizona, where Joan Crawford (Vienna), an aggressive and strong-willed saloonkeeper maintains a volatile relationship with the local cattlemen and townsfolk. Stubborn and combative, Vienna goes against the will of the cattlemen in the construction of a railroad, and she permits a suspected stage robber Scott Brady (The Dancin' Kid) to share her bed and his confederates to frequent her saloon. Sterling Hayden (Johnny Guitar) Vienna's ex-lover, arrives at the saloon, renews his love for the woman and offers his protection. Everything seems fine for both, until The Dancin 'Kid and his gang rob the town bank. The suspicions of the townsfolk, are directed towards Vienna, convinced that she has played a part. Merceds McCambridge (Emma Small) a cattle rancher, who has long hated Vienna, persuades the townsfolk to hang woman. But Emma, will fail in its intent.
In 2008, Johnny Guitar was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The Chicago Reader's Jonathan Rosenbaum lists Johnny Guitar as one of the 100 best American films.
The film is beloved of French critics and filmmakers, such as François Truffaut, who described it as the "Beauty and the Beast of Westerns, a Western dream".
The making of the film was characterized from rivalry between the two first women Crawford-McCambridge, who in life as in the film, proved to have a great personality.
In an interview in the Criterion Collection version of The Killing, Sterling Hayden stated that he did not care for Johnny Guitar. "They put string, like you get at the grocery store, over my guitar in case I accidentally hit them," he said, acknowledging that "I can't play guitar, and can't sing a good-goddamn, either." "I was at war on that film, during the daytime, with Joan Crawford," he recalled, "and at night with my second wife." Despite his reservations about the film, Hayden acknowledged its popularity.
Music for this tribute is the song Johnny Guitar written by Peggy Lee and Victor Young and originally sung by Peggy Lee herself.