Sunday, July 19, 2015


(Post 47 of 50)

A Western that features a posse, criminal gangs, double crosses, revenge, and a retired gunslinger named Johnny Guitar. But ultimately, this film relies heavily on the complex relationship between the female leads (a middle-aged Joan Crawford and the plain-Jane Mercedes McCambridge). I've never liked either of them more than in this film and they are both fun to watch.

Joan is stoic, but strong casino owner Violette, whose past may be catching up to her with the return of ex-flame Johnny Guitar. Mercedes is Emma, whose unrequited love for bank robber The Dancing Kid leads her to lash out at everybody, but she saves her most special animus for Violette. 

Certainly a must for Western fans.

And the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award goes to..The ultimate showdown might feature the ladies, but there are a lot of good male supporting players here, including past Elisha Cook Award winners Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine and Paul Fix. 

But I'm giving it this time to John Carradine, who in this film plays the sympathetic schlep who is loyal to a fault to Vienna and can't seem to get anyone to notice him until his big death scene.

Carradine played in hundreds of movies and television shows throughout his long career, including the Christ figure (or was it John the Baptist?) in The Grapes of Wrath,  the southern gentleman in Stagecoach, and Dracula in House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein.

But I gotta tell you, the first thing I still think of when I think of John Carradine is his comic turn in Woody Allen's Everything you wanted to know about sex, where he plays a doctor whose sexual experiments have turned him mad. "They laughed at me at Masters and Johnsons! But I showed them!"


  1. Emma is the dog you just want to kick. It takes a special skill to make her that annoying, but that is also necessary when you want to create a McCarthy character. Would she not be a candidate for the award?

  2. Though technically her screen time would probably label it a supporting role, I still think of McCambridge as being one of the dual leads here.