Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot - Johnny Guitar

Written (and this week I use the term very loosely) as part of The Film Experience's Hit Me With Your Best Shot series, hosted as always by our benevolent overlord, Nathaniel.

Look, there are many things to love about Nicholas Ray's incredible, impossible western melodrama, Johnny Guitar: Joan Crawford's costumes. Joan Crawford's hair. Mercedes McCambridge's unhinged, nearly Faye Dunaway-as-Joan Crawford-level performance. And anyone would be perfectly justified in talking about the women in Johnny Guitar, because women so rarely get to take center stage in westerns. And anyone would be perfectly justified in talking about genre conventions, or the difference in masculine/feminine aesthetics/gender roles and how the film upholds and/or subverts them. It's a brilliant, incredibly entertaining to watch film.

But, as much as I love Johnny Guitar and Nicholas Ray, and as much as I love actresses, and as much as I love Crawford and ADORE McCambridge's performance here, I could give two shits about them right now, because Sterling Hayden.


He's such a fucking MAN and I just want him to look at me with those eyes and sing to me with that guitar (I do not care one bit if he can't really play) and touch me with those hands. He's one of my all-time biggest actor crushes and I do not care that the whole point of Hit Me With Your Best Shot is supposed to be about looking at a film and its cinematography and how one works in service of the other and how film is an incredible art form because...
Sterling Hayden.

But I suppose I do have something to say, because my pick for Best Shot I really do feel encapsulates a lot about this crazy film.
It just makes me laugh. Sterling Hayden, epitome of masculinity, holding a dainty, PERFECTLY CLEAN, bright blue & white teacup. If that isn't the whole of Johnny Guitar in one image, then I don't know what is.

...except that OH WAIT, maybe I do, because this film also contains this classic piece of WTF:
Best Shot Runner-Up
No, seriously. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

If you haven't seen Johnny Guitar, I don't blame you. The film has been notoriously difficult to find on DVD, and even then mostly in not-very-good prints. But it is out on Blu-Ray now, as well as on iTunes and Amazon Instant apparently, so now you have no excuse. Do yourself a favor and watch it. It is "out there" in a crazy, melodramatic, completely unique way.


  1. OMG i love your choice. perfectly stated.

    1. Thanks! Had I been less busy and/or less...ummmmm... shall we say.... I'm gonna go with... hungry... this week, I might have been able to take this one more seriously, but I just love Hayden so much.

      I'm blaming Passover and the lack of bread.

  2. Okay I love your choice even with a very crypt keeperish and out of focus John Carradine in the background and Hayden was a VERY attractive man but I can think of few actors who were duller on screen. I did love him in 9-5 when he was older as Russell Tinsworthy. The loss of his looks seems to have loosened him up.

    Anyway great choice for this trip into bizarro world with Joan, Mercy and Ster.

    1. LOL it's so true... Hayden may be gorgeous but I can admit that in his prime he was rather flat onscreen. I also love him Dr. Strangelove.

      But I love looking at him so much that I mostly don't care.