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Directed by Nicholas Ray

United States 1954 110 mins.

Widely cited as an allegory for the anti-Communist hearings overseen by the House Un-American Activities Committee that led to the Hollywood blacklist of 1955, Johnny Guitar is one of the fiercest Westerns ever made. Vienna (an unforgettable Joan Crawford), a saloon owner in a small Arizona town, walks a fine line between the conservative townsfolk, led by vicious ex-rival Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), and an outlaw gang led by the Dancin’ Kid (Scott Brady). When the mysterious Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden) arrives into town, it dredges up a tumultuous past with Vienna, and drives a wedge between the warring parties. McIvers, the local sheriff (Ward Bond), gives Vienna, Guitar, and the gang 24 hours to leave town, which sets up one of the most unexpected showdowns in Hollywood history. Shot in retina-searing Trucolor by veteran lenser Harry Stradling, Johnny Guitar is one of the most original films of the 1950s. “Once seen, never forgotten.”—Scout Tafoya, Brooklyn Magazine.