FERNANDO’s CORNER ~ Posted October 2nd, 2016
I revisited Nicholas Ray’s Classic Cult film “Johnny Guitar” (1954) with Joan Crawford as the hardboiled Vienna, owner of a Casino nearby a Western town owned practically by the characters played by Mercedes McCambridge (Emma) and Ward Bond. Sterling Hayden is Johnny Logan, a legendary gunfighter who happens to be Vienna’s old flame and Scott Brady is the Dancing Kid, who also loves Vienna. Emma hates Vienna passionately and unwittingly yearns for the Kid.
The film is like a Greek Tragedy set in the West with Noir touches. There are some very melodramatic and powerful confrontation scenes between the two leading ladies and a showdown. Both Crawford and McCambridge are very good. Whereas Crawford plays Vienna cold as stone McCambridge is pure passion, hatred and hysterics as Emma. Excellent. Hayden, Brady, John Carradine, Ward Bond, Ben Cooper, Royal Dano, Ernest Borgnine et al, are uniformly good, but it is the ladies’ show all the way. Good stuff!
Joan Crawford’s chiseled facial features are perfect for her character, though frankly it’s a little bit hard to believe Brady & Hayden, 17 and 9 years younger than her in real life, respectively, absolutely crazy about Vienna as shown in the film. An actress with the age and physique of Yvonne De Carlo or Lizabeth Scott circa 1954, for instance, who could have conveyed Vienna’s toughness and determination as well, would have been more believable in that respect. But except for that minor aspect, Crawford is very good in the role.
CineMaven’s Note: Good choices. My question is could either one of those two actresses command attention away from McCambridge?
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