Lehmann: I’m Michael Lehmann, and this is Trailers from Hell. Johnny Guitar, not to be confused with Johnny “Guitar” Watson, is everybody’s favourite cult Movie, the weirdest western ever made, lots of Fun to watch. Check it out.
I was introduced to this Movie, like most people, in Film School, where it’s taught as an example of a revisionist western, or it’s being treated frequently as a parable of the McCarthy Witchhunt, which it clearly is. But, it is really weird and Fun to watch. It has great performances from Joan Crawford, with the oddest haircut and lipstick and eyebrows you’ve ever seen her wear, and Sterling Hayden, whom I love, I don’t know why, but seems like all my favourite moviestar, Sterling Hayden, or have him in them, and Mercedes McCambridge, who plays a sexually repressed, completely out-of-her-mind young woman, and of course Ernest Borgnine whom we love to kick across the room. This Movie breaks all sorts of western conventions. A lot of it takes place inside. It has women in its leading roles. It plays all sorts of weird, bizarre feminist politics between these two competing women. It has a character named The Dancing Kid, which is also just strange. Nicholas Ray, the director, is a great, great filmmaker highly regarded by the French and by all People who teach in Film Schools. I remember when I was shown the Film in School, we were told, “Look at all the mismatches in continuity. Look at all the Things that deliberately aren’t made to be seamless.” I watched it, and I thought, “No, they made mistakes. They were making mistakes in this Movie.” It feels like kind of a sloppy mess, but it’s really Beautiful, and it moves along, and it has very, very strange Dynamic and Psychology. It holds up. It’s weird, and it’s Fun. It’s not like any other western. It has very strange stuff from Mercedes McCambridge, whom most of you remember as the voice of Linda Blair in The Exorcist when she got possessed. She and Joan Crawford just. It sizzles whenever they’re on the screen together. It’s a Movie that you can watch over and over again both to see the mistakes and to see all the wonderful, delicious Things that live inside it.