Tuesday, May 11, 2010

JOHNNY GUITAR

BILL AND WAYNE'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURES IN THE WORLD OF QUIRKY FILM

The latest excellent adventure in the quirky world of film came at the recommendation Guely of Sweden and RDD, the Hoosier Lawyer. My father in law Wayne and I took a look at the classic western, Johnny Guitar Saturday morning and there were sausage, egg and Tabasco sauce bagels.

Johnny Guitar, directed by Nicholas Ray, ain’t you’re run of the mill cowboy picture; the 1954 movie is a calculated attack on McCarthyism. The title character is played by Sterling Hayden, a blacklisted B movie actor and a decorated World War II veteran. In spite of the title, Johnny Guitar is a kinda cool, kinda goofy supporting character. The women run the show in this flick. Hey, I have five daughters; I’m cool with feminism.

The heroine, played by all time melodrama queen Joan Crawford, gesticulates and shouts and cries constantly at her nemesis played by Mercedes McCambridge. And McCambridge shouts, moans, shakes her fists and overacts right back. McCambridge, who would fittingly go on to serve as the voice of the devil in The Exorcist, plays a sexually repressed loudmouth weirdo, a female version of Tail gunner Joe McCarthy. These opposing crazy broads are reminiscent of the some of the nuns back in my Catholic school days.

The dialogue and musical score are tremendously over the top, giving the film the feel of a B science fiction movie. I kept waiting for the creature to pop out of the lagoon. At times it feels like an opera or a silent movie. I don’t know how to categorize the movie. All I can say it’s as bizarre as hell and it sure doesn’t play like a 1950s western.

The movie is fittingly set against the bizarre red rocks of Sedona. The characters are clad in sharp black and bright blues, reds and whites, bringing about a Disney feel.

Ray smashes the viewer in the noggin with blatant sexual symbolism. The women strap on guns while the parade of waterfalls, caves, trains, blasting storms and raging fires never stop.

Ernie Borgnine heats things up as a ridiculously psychotic and surprise, surprise, sexually repressed bad guy while John Carradine manages to do some legitimate acting in the middle of all of this insanity. First rate character actors like Royal Dano, Scott Brady and Ward Bond keep things interesting.

The dialogue is laugh out loud corny. When Sterling introduces himself as Johnny Guitar a cowboy smirks, “Guitar ain’t no kind of name.” The cowboy’s name is, get this, The Dancin’ Kid. Later in the film The Dancin’ Kid offers Johnny Guitar his hand and Johnny Guitar says, “I never shake hands with a left handed gun.” The line is so campy it’s cool – quirky cool.

The whole darned movie is quirky cool. I liked the darned thing – dammit - and so did my bagel eatin’ movie watchin’ partner, Wayne. Tabasco soaked egg and sausage bagels with a kooky old movie like Johnny Guitar is a way quirky cool way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday morning.


20 comments:

JJ said...

Mommie Dearest meets The Crucible. I love it!

#167 Dad said...

JJ,
Sure wish I'd said that...

Momma Fargo said...

Western cooky. I like those old movies.

Did you have bananas as dessert?

#167 Dad said...

Momma,
Hah!
The banana only comes on photo shoots.

#167 Dad said...

Momma,
Hah!
The banana only comes on photo shoots.

C-dubb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C-dubb said...

I Remember you talking about this in class today, During our movie poster activity.

Guely of Sweden said...

A somehow dreamy, strange and surreal western. Great review Snyder.It looks like you got it.

#167 Dad said...

C-dubb,
It's always nice to have my ace-1 pretzel makin' student drop in!

#167 Dad said...

G-Man,
Johnny Guitar was a great tip. What do you suggest we watch next?

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"The dialogue is laugh out loud corny."

Notice that quite a bit in old movies. Sounds like fun to have gone and I hope the bagels were good.

When I saw Johnny Guitar, I thought of Johnny Guitar Watson. Now, I think that is someone out of the 70's.

Tgoette said...

Ha ha! Interesting review. They don't make them like that anymore!

Well, at least, not on purpose!

#167 Dad said...

midlife jobhunter-
the bagels were so good we're going to do it again next saturday.

#167 Dad said...

Tgoette,
reviews or movies?
sorry, it just came out.
thanks for stopping by.

Walter Knight said...

I love movies. If I see a great line in an old movie, I try to sneak it into the dialogue of one of my books.

I don't think I'm stealing or spoofing, I'm preserving history.

Good luck getting published. Send my publisher a query. They're small, but honest.

Guely of Sweden said...

Phase IV!!

#167 Dad said...

Walter,
Thanks for stopping by.
I quote songs, poems, movies, and you name it in my stories. I'm with you.
Thanks for the tip. I will send your publisher a query.

#167 Dad said...

G-Man,
Just googled Phase IV. I think I'll have to include my wife on this one. She digs anything with aliens.
Looks like we're going with Once Upon in the West Saturday. I think you recommended it earlier.

Bluesfrau said...

"Tabasco soaked egg and sausage bagels with a kooky old movie like Johnny Guitar is a way quirky cool way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday morning."

That sounds fabulous!!
I miss America...

kavita said...

Interesting review...a movie my husband would love.Bagels sound good.