Johnny Guitar: 10 Reasons to See This Film

Joan Crawford at the climax of Johnny Guitar
The posse on the hunt for Vienna (Crawford) Crawford takes on the posse Vienna and Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden) find a stolen moment

McCarthy-era symbolism, great landscapes, amazing TruColor costumes and sets, Joan Crawford's eyebrows -- this movie has something for everybody.

I saw Johnny Guitar about ten years ago and I liked it just fine then. Now it is one of my favorite films of the 1950s. Here's why:

10. Joan Crawford in a Western! WWJD -- What would Joan do? What wouldn't she do?

9. The landscapes, filmed in TruColor, are spectacular and somehow just a bit alien.

8. Johnny Guitar makes a great case against the blacklisting and witch hunts of the McCarthy Era.

7. The real screenwriter of the film, Ben Maddow, is not listed in the credits -- he had been blacklisted in Hollywood by McCarthy.

6. Mercedes McCambridge and Sterling Hayden (the new crop of young turks in 1950s Hollywood) are doing their best to keep up with Miss Crawford (and at times, they succeed).

5. If you like a good Western, all the components are here: horses, bank robberies (on horseback), Wild West-style justice, saloons and hard ridin' cowboys.

4. If you like a great screen idol, Joan Crawford is bringing her best -- from those amazing over groomed eyebrows and a magnificent jawline to her scene stealing and unerring over-the-topness. The film is worth watching just to see Crawford's character, Vienna, take on the entire posse, unarmed, in her saloon.

3. Crawford's costumes, designed by Sheila O'Brien, are another character in the film -- changing to show Vienna's transitions.

2. The title song, Johnny Guitar, is written and sung by Peggy Lee -- brilliantly. Listen to the oft-covered original here.

1. Crawford gets her woman and then gets her man. Come see the film Tuesday night and this last item will make perfect sense.

Showtime: 6 p.m. at the Central Library. Details here.

Full Fresh City Life Schedule here.

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