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Johnny Guitar [DVD]

Joan Crawford , Sterling Hayden , Nicholas Ray    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
Price: £5.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Scott Brady, Ward Bond
  • Directors: Nicholas Ray
  • Writers: Nicholas Ray, Ben Maddow, Philip Yordan, Roy Chanslor
  • Producers: Nicholas Ray
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 4 April 2005
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007Q6RIG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,381 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Nicholas Ray directs this prime example of vivid 50s melodrama. Vienna (Joan Crawford) is an Arizona saloon owner who also controls the local gambling operation. The arrival of the local railroad looks to be a profitable development, but Vienna has a problem in the form of the vindictive Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), who is after her land. Small and a posse accuse Vienna and the Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady) of being behind a stagecoach job. Although innocent, Vienna finds herself being hounded out of town. She turns for support to her former lover, Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), but matters take a turn for the worse when she is caught up in a bank heist.


"I've never seen a woman who was more like a man," a character observes of Vienna (Joan Crawford), who has just opened a saloon that hasn't exactly endeared itself to the local townspeople. Emma (Mercedes McCambridge), the local sexually repressed, lynch-happy harpy, is particularly displeased. Vienna is wooed both by the Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady) and by Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), a peripatetic tough guy-turned-troubadour with whom she has a past.

When the Kid's gang (which includes Ernest Borgnine) decides to knock over the bank before heading to California, Emma wants just about everyone in sight on the business end of a rope. Nicolas Ray's 1954 epic was considered one of the downright strangest Westerns of all time--the women were far tougher than the men (Johnny watches on laconically during the bank robbery, not bothering with heroics), and some saw in the film a bizarre allegory for the McCarthy Red scare. A half-century later, it's still a curious, intriguing piece of moral ambiguity from a time when such a thing ostensibly didn't exist. Hayden is an enigmatic presence, and Crawford's commanding star turn is what you'd expect. --David Kronke

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Johnny Guitar is out of Republic Pictures and is directed by Nicholas Ray. It's written by Phillip Yordan, who adapts from a novel written by Roy Chanslor, and it stars Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine & Scott Brady.Victor Young scores the music, with the theme tune sung by Peggy Lee, and Harry Stradling Senior photographs in Trucolor.

On the outskirts of an Arizona cattle town is a saloon run by the strong willed Vienna (Crawford). It's not a busy place, and the users of it tend to be more of the rough kind, notably The Dancing Kid (Brady) and his gang. At the request of Vienna, her former lover Johnny Guitar (Hayden) arrives for his employment as the musical entertainment. But he walks into a war, a war between Vienna and the townsfolk led by the vicious and vindictive Emma Small (McCambridge).

Johnny Guitar has been called many things. From the deep thinkers who like to call it a feminist statement, an anti McCarthyism allegory and a piece smouldering with sexual repressions and yearnings: to the detractors calling it rubbish, campy and acted so badly that it actually smells of bacon cooking in the kitchen. What is immediately evident about it is that once viewed it's unlikely to be forgotten: which ever side of the fence you sit. It was a troubled production that saw both Hayden & McCambridge declare dislike for Crawford, with Crawford reciprocating the dislike for McCambridge by insisting that her character of Vienna be given more meat from which to further dominate the film. Fans of the film will forever be grateful for Crawford's jealousy, for she got her way, this was after all a vehicle for her, if she had walked, as was threatened, it would have died a death.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Powder Keg of a Film 28 Feb 2009
Nicholas Ray was a mercurial and brilliant director. He was bisexual and had affairs with such stars as Marilyn Monroe and Joan Crawford, the star of this film. He was a heavy drinker, a gambler and a drug addict. In short he lived that hedonistic lifestyle so beloved of many Hollywood luminaries. Joan Crawford had a well documented film career. She was notorious for her many lovers and if you believed half of the biography "Mommie Dearest", she was a cruel, abusing, alcoholic Mother to her adopted children. Mercedes McCambridge led a tragic life. She also suffered from alcoholism and her only son tragically shot himself after murdering his wife and children. Sterling Hayden was a colourful character who sailed around the world several times in between acting. His career was blighted due to his activities during the McCarthy years.
So what sort of film would you get if you mixed this powder keg of characters together in a Western. Something volatile? Something unusual? You betcha!

"Johnny Guitar" made in 1954, and not 1963 as advertised is all of those things and more. The story concerns a saloon owner Vienna played by the wide eyed Crawford, who supports the building of a railway and allows a local outlaw "the Dancin Kid" and his gang the use of her facilities. All of which are angrily opposed by the local population. An old lover "Johnny Guitar" an ex gunslinger, who now only carries his guitar returns to try and reignite the romance. The fuse is lit when the gang rob a bank and the locals feel Vienna is implicated. A posse led by Emma Small a local rancher played by McCambridge hunt the gang to their lair.
Emma has always harboured a deep and festering hatred of Vienna. We head towards one of the most unusual gunfights in history between the two female protaganists.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Perverse 9 April 2006
If Charlotte Bronte had written a Western, she might have turned out something like this lunatic wallow in repressed female sexuality. God knows what the original novel (by Ray Chanslor) is like, but the director lays on the Freudian imagery with a trowel: my favourite is Crawford's blood-red shirt into which she insanely changes while on the run from a lynch-mob. Of the men, only the squalid and asexual Ernest Borgnine has substance; the rest look bemused or mildly disgusted by proceedings. Mercedes McCambridge is a screeching harpy, a force of nature, mesmerising in her intensity. Crawford looks like she's come west as an escapee from the House of Usher. In her caked-on, clown-like make-up that defined her later period, she's a hideous and unforgettable matriarch.

The DVD transfer is superb. There's an enthusiatic introduction by Martin Scorsese, but no other extras. A full-blown psycho-analytic reading as a commentary might have been fun.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mesmerizing western 18 April 2006
By Miguel M. Santos VINE VOICE
Certainly one of the most unusual westerns ever made, "Johnny Guitar" is a fascinating and mesmerizing film. Women take the central role, while men play second fiddle to them. It has a unique atmosphere of garish, fake colours and location settings. It is surely one of those films no one should ever miss. Brilliantly acted by Joan Crawford (my favourite performance of hers) and Mercedes McCambridge, playing respectively a saloon owner with an eye in the future and her fierce opponent.

The DVD looks gorgeous, with the film's fantastic range of colours highlighted by the print. As for extras there's only an introduction to the film by Martin Scorcese. It would be nice if there was something meatier. I strongly recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars And now a gunfight catfight. In left corner, wearing red, Vienna the...
I liked this atypical and deservedly famous 1954 western. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Darth Maciek
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Brings back old memories. Many thanks. DjW
Published 2 months ago by Douglas J. Warth
4.0 out of 5 stars Audio out of synch
The Spanish edition of this movie has an audio problem, it is out of synch most of the time. Very annoying!!
Published 4 months ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
A awesome movie,not often do you get a believable
female lead character but you get 2 strong women in this film.
A must watch for all western fans.
Published 5 months ago by raymond nicholas
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite older westerns
To me this western was a surprise. Better than expected, it has become one of my three favorite American made western from before 1970, alongside John Ford's The Man Who Shot... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Bent A
5.0 out of 5 stars Johnny Guitar dvd
One of my favourite western movies of all time with Joan Crawford playing the major part. There are two stories within the film, one of deep love and one of hate combined with... Read more
Published 14 months ago by John Rollitt
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best westerns ever made
This 1954 Nicholas Ray western must be ranked as one of the very best on grounds of originality alone. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Film Buff
5.0 out of 5 stars woman of the west
"Spin the wheel, Eddie ! What for ? No customers. I like to hear it spinning". Joan Crawford, as Vienna, shows who runs things at the outset. Read more
Published 20 months ago by lycidas
4.0 out of 5 stars A Woman's Gotta Do.....
Of course, one of the most distinctive things about this 1954 Nick Ray western (which is itself the subject of something of an obsession with French New Wave directors) is that it... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Keith M
5.0 out of 5 stars CRAWFORD RULES!!!!!!!!!!!
Published 21 months ago by Helmer Rodriguez
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