Johnny Guitar (1954)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Strong-willed saloon-casino owner Vienna squares off against her nemesis, the shrieking Emma Small, who wrongly blames Vienna for her brother's death.

Rating: PG
Genre: Western, Drama, Action & Adventure, Musical & Performing Arts, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Roy Chanslor, Philip Yordan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 16, 2008


as Vienna

as Johnny Guitar

as Dancin' Kid

as John McIvers

as Turkey Ralston

as Bart Lonergan

as Old Tom

as Corey

as Marshal Williams

as Eddie

as Mr. Andrews

as Posse Member

as Posse Member

as Posse Member

as Posse Member
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Johnny Guitar

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Johnny Guitar

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (5)

Ray's film is not a romantic comedy, but a Western. Or is it?

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Let's put it down as a fiasco. Miss Crawford went thataway.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

One of those classic westerns that has maintained its status by reinventing itself every decade since its release in 1954.

Full Review… | July 11, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

For all its violence, this is a surpassingly tender, sensitive film, Ray's gentlest statement of his outsider theme.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

This Technicolor cowboy picture feels like it exists in some other dimension. "Johnny Guitar" satirizes macho posturing, even as it elevates the catfight to a whole new level.

Full Review… | May 20, 2014

One of Nicholas Ray's best films, the garish, full-color Freudian Western is an amazing, weird movie that's not easy to get the first time around.

Full Review… | June 18, 2012
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Johnny Guitar

It's quite a weird western with Joan Crawford filling the John Wayne shoes, glossy romantic scenes which could be thrown into a Douglas Sirk film and all painted with dramatic red strokes - from the sunsets, to a dramatic fire to Crawford's iconic lips. And it all ends in a rootin' tootin' gun shooting between its two female leads - a sort of Western version of a women's catfight. Peppered with great dialogue and a performance by Mercedes McCambridge which leaves no doubt why she was chosen to play the demon in "The Exorcist", there's little not to love.

Matheus Carvalho
Matheus Carvalho

Super Reviewer


I hate westerns, so I rated it lower because of that, but it is a different kind of western than normal. The story is sort of boring, but the characters aren't is another way of putting it. Anyway, it's interesting.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

Joan Crawford is Vienna, a frontier woman you don't want to mess with, but her arch nemesis, the maniacally evil Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge) is one terrifying broad. The movie may be titled "Johnny Guitar", but it's all about the women duking it out, in a sort of pseudo-feminist western (the men are all but dominated by the women). The film opens strongly, with a confrontation in Vienna's casino/bar. It seems the stage coach was robbed and Emma's brother was killed (they bring his body right into the casino and lay it down on the craps table). Emma blames Vienna's club and the men who frequent it, especially "the Dancin' Kid" (Scott Brady). In reality, Emma is in love with the Dancin' Kid and is jealous of his relationship with Vienna (who it's suggested, is sort of a fallen woman). She has another reason to hate Vienna; as the new railroad is being built, more and more outsiders will come to town, spreading their indecency and immorality. She thinks Vienna is the vanguard in an onslaught that will bring about her cherished town's destruction. She forms a posse and seeks to lynch Vienna, the Dancin' Kid and his cohorts. The Dancin' Kid claims he and his pardners are mining silver in a hidden mine, but they're being run out of town anyway. The Kid decides if they're going to be accused of being criminals, they may as well be criminals and they go and rob the bank. Vienna happens to be in the bank at the same time, closing her account. One thing leads to another, and it's Vienna who's accused of aiding the outlaws. In the midst of all this is Johnny Guitar, once Vienna's lover and now just a wandering minstrel. Vienna sends for Johnny to come and perform in her saloon, but really she wants to use him for protection, for you see Johnny is a former gunslinger, and one of the fastest and best gunmen in the west. The plot details don't mean a whole lot, as this is all just an excuse to see Crawford and McCambridge go at it, tooth and nail. All in all, it's good, 1950s, campy fun.

Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Johnny Guitar Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Johnny Guitar on our Movie forum!