Johnny Guitar (1954)

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Nicholas Ray directs Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden and Mercedes McCambridge in this technicolor western about a saloon owner being driven out of town by her fanatical respectable counterpart. 

Romance, star vehicle, feature length catfight, gender subversion, blatant exploration of McCarthyism and still with your industry standard shoot-outs to boot, Johnny Guitar is one of those rare 50s form-busting, risk taking, tongue in cheek genre endeavours that make you constantly ask “What the fuck am I watching?” as it snares you tighter into its trap (see also 40 Guns). Obviously a massive influence on Tarantino with its long, monologue driven sequences and genre deconstruction, the above image sums up the camp fun to be had within; Crawford greeting a lynch mob in all her fineries at a piano, stuck between a rock and hard place. She plays for them for five whole tense, illuminating minutes.

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