Joan Crawford, whose previous western was Montana Moon in 1930, has another try at the wide open spaces with Johnny Guitar. Like Moon, it proves the actress should leave saddles and levis to someone else and stick to city lights for a background.
The Roy Chanslor novel on which Philip Yordan based the screenplay provides this Republic release with a conventional oater basis. Scripter Yordan and director Nicholas Ray became so involved with character nuances and neuroses, that ‘Johnny Guitar’ never has enough chance to rear up in the saddle and ride at an acceptable outdoor pace.
Crawford plays Vienna, strong-willed owner of a plush gambling saloon standing alone in the wilderness of Arizona. She knows the railroad’s coming through and she will build a whole new town and get rich. Opposing her is Mercedes McCambridge, bitter, frustrated leader of a nearby community.
Love, hate and violence, with little sympathy for the characters, is stirred up during the overlong film.