Johnny Guitar - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Johnny Guitar Reviews

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April 30, 2017
Tough guy Joan Crawford
½ March 1, 2017
This movie was vicious- both emotionally and violence-wise. I get that there's a lot of symbolism for McCarthy witch hunts etc but a couple of things really bothered me:

1) Why the fuck is this called Johnny Guitar? Dude is like a tertiary character and basically meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

2) I hated how much of an evil bitch Emma was. She was just a flat out evil bitch and there was nothing else to her. You get zero acknowledgement of her as a human other than her burning hatred for men who 'make her feel like a woman' and Vienna for somehow being more of a woman than she is, while also still being called a man within the first 15 minutes of the film. That sure makes for an interesting conversation on sexuality but it doesn't really mesh with the rest of the stereotypical characters in the movie.

I liked Vienna a ton a least, she's an amazingly interesting and fresh female lead, especially for the '50s. Her relationship with Johnny is heartbreaking and honestly if they had just focused on that it almost would have been just as good of a film. However, as it is, the film focuses on the witch hunt aspect which is also interesting if not more brutally cruel. This is one of those films where the message is great but its punishing to watch, especially if you already are empathetic to the cause.

All in all, a refreshing take on a western- the likes of which you really only start to see again towards the '70s as far as I can tell.
Super Reviewer
December 5, 2016
The first 45 minutes are perfect, with impeccable performances (Crawford at her best) and an exceptional dialogue, but then the film starts to lose steam and drag in a few moments, while Vienna's peaceful (passive, that would be) motivations become a bit exasperating.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2016
Classic gender bending western, almost entirely set in one location, that balances thrills, camp and righteous anger brilliantly.
½ September 13, 2016
It's a gripping Western that is an allegory of police overreach and being guilty by association. Surprisingly smart commentary of the McCarthy era.
August 4, 2016
A fantastic classic featuring a terrific & electric performance by Joan Crawford playing Saloon Owner Vienna who doesn't take the rubbish from the local town.

Things really heat up when stranger Johnny Guitar rides into to town with a clear past with Vienna. Filled with great dialogue & genuine tension.

A western with a twist & this time the lady has something to settle. A unique take on the Western & really engaging film, with great characters.
July 3, 2016
131230: The acting in this movie is so bad it's laughable. Seriously, I laughed out loud a few times. Tell me it was done intentionally? It had to have been. It's like there was a competition among the cast to see who could be the most dramatic. It's comical. This movie is worth watching for this reason alone. Don't let my low rating stop you. You won't believe it until you see it. And man, was I shocked with what happens to the Dancin' Kid. Violence in film is not that new after all.
June 23, 2016
"theres nothing like a good smoke and a cup of know some men got the craving for gold and silver, others need lots of land with herds and cattle...and theres those that got the weakness for whiskey and women...but when you boil it all down what does a man need...just a smoke and a cup of coffee"
one of the most adult coolest not hokey best kept secret Westerns ever...and the most fem!!!!
½ May 13, 2016
An interesting genre bending entry, Johnny Guitar has all the elements of a basic western. There's robbers, a lone drifter, and of course multiple love triangles. But what it also does is give an intense steely eyed glared performance from Joan Crawford, who commands the screen more than the title character. In fact, so does her opponent Emma Small, a shrieking harpy who tries to build a posse to take her down with a lynching. There's lots of back story and melodrama, but its an interesting experiment that works well, especially for its time period.
½ April 18, 2016
One of the most unique Westerns out there.

It was great to see more of the key elements which were replicated in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time In The West. The women were arguably tougher than the men in this film, and Joan Crawford's blue eyes stare through my soul.
August 17, 2015
A role-reversal western with over-the-top performances, esp from Joan Crawford, about mob mentality & the politics of sex.
½ July 14, 2015
A really good western movie made with a minimal budget minimal set but amazing story and acting.
½ July 5, 2015
An usual western with a strong woman protagonist.
June 18, 2015
This is a very strange film. It has what I feel to be undeserved classic status. I think it has something to do with Joan Crawford being a strong female lead. However, aside from this unique angle, it is fairly boring, with unlikeable characters.
½ June 1, 2015
Nicholas Ray's "western" is one of the most clever cinematic tricks in the history of film. It is almost unbelievable that he managed to create this Hollywood film in 1954 with no push back. What appears to be an odd and intentionally campy take on the Western genre is actually a highly artistic commentary on McCarthyism that was swallowing Hollywood. And while it is carefully veiled, this film is a rather bold examination of sexual politics, frustrations and repressions. Seen through the eyes of the later half of the 20th Century and now the 21st Century, the filmmaker's intentions are obvious. A number of the characters seem to be fighting against the forced oppression of their sexual desires and expressing it through the genre's violence. It seems clear that most of the cast -- particularly Movie Queen, Joan Crawford --- are not aware of the movie that they are actually in. The exception might have been Mercedes McCambridge who invests a great deal in her role. McCambridge plays "Emma" less like a woman hellbent on vengeance and more like a lover so rage filled at her attraction for Crawford's "Vienna" that she has no choice but to kill the object of her desire. The set design is also of import. Isn't there something oddly human-like about that cave wall in the back Vienna's saloon? Making this infamous movie all the more enjoyable is the fact that Nicholas Ray seems to want his film to reach the for comedy. Too bad no one was ever able to ask him. But his cinematic curiosity is packed with hidden meanings and amped up to provide a truly campy bit of fun. A must see.
May 22, 2015
"All a man wants is a smoke and a good cup of coffee"
½ February 26, 2015
The first 40 minutes are boring*, but once the plot is set up its a great watch.
Nearly 3 and a half stars.

*When commenting on the film, Martin Scorsese referred to this 40 or so minutes as a build up in a operatic style, bursting with emotion or some such. With these comments in mind, I would consider the first 40 minutes to be a somewhat contrived, over the top operatic-ness, fused with your typical cowboy bullshit (1950's style, chatter and face off's) (most of it one extended scene by the way.)
It is only when the flames rise that we see a true operatic nature (i am going to argue.) After this patience testing '40 minutes or so', the film moves into gear.
½ January 20, 2015
Inusual western donde el enfrentamiento de dos mujeres Crawford y McCambridge es uno de los puntos mas altos , excelentes dialogos y direccion , film de culto.
November 13, 2014
One for the "So bad, it's hilarious" pile. Once you get past the notion of Joan Crawford, a former hooker (suggested, not actually stated), so successful, she bought a saloon/casino joint and the two men who vie for her heart, The Dancing Kid and Johnny Guitar, (even the young gun-slinger, Turkey, has a thing for her. - Man, it must've been real lonely in the old west) the real star of this show is Mercedes McCambridge. Her female James Cagney-esque character seems like it was created and played by Martin Short, even down to that weird, crazy smile.
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