Joan Crawford Western Showdown! JOHNNY GUITAR 1954 (35mm) with Ernest Borgnine

This offbeat, low budget Republic Pictures "female western" is part of a five movie American Cinematheque memorial tribute to the late actor Ernest Borgnine and shows Joan Crawford slightly on her way down--careerwise--but nevertheless has some very entertaining moments including the grand finale--a gun toting catfight/showdown between Joan and character actress Mercedes McCambridge in a scene that is NOT to be missed! This movie, which apparently was shot for 3D effect, but for various reasons was never released that way, was directed by famed  Hollywood director Nicholas Ray who also directed the noir classic "In A Lonely Place" (that our Group saw a couple of months ago at the Million Dollar Theatre) and the James Dean classic "Rebel Without A Cause."

Both Crawford and McCambridge both despised each other in real life which added even more spark, rivalry and unintentional campiness to the filming of this movie. Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge reportedly fought both on and off camera. In fact due to Joan's jealousy, the director ended up filming most of McCambridge's scenes early in the day before Joan's arrival to the set. Nevertheless, one night, in a drunken rage, Crawford allegedly scattered the costumes worn by McCambridge along an Arizona highway. Cast and crew had to collect the outfits. On another occasion, after these costumes were retrieved, Joan supposedly broke into McCambridge's dressing room and literally ripped them to shreds.

Lead actor Sterling Hayden after filming wrapped was quoted as saying, "there is not enough money in Hollywood to lure me into making another picture with Joan Crawford.. and I love money!"

Unfortunately, no trailers for the movie could be found online--other than complete scenes which might spoil the impact of the movie, but see an interesting video clip with the movie's entire melodramatic theme song performed by 1950's pop legend Peggy Lee and stills from the movie at the following weblink:

http://www.meetup.com/TCM-Classic-Movie-Fan-Club-LOS-ANGELES/events/76824402/?action=edit

The original Wild West set for this film (and a few other Republic Pictures Western films) was located on Sunset Boulevard at the Silverlake studios of KCET public television (who bought and renovated the old studio in the late 1970's), but will soon be turning over the historic property to the Church of Scientology and moving to new facilities in Burbank. Jono worked at KCET right after he graduated from college and recalls going to an elaborate cowboy-themed employee "margarita party" on the eve before this western set was raised to make way for KCET's needed employee and visitor parking structure (parking spaces were more valued at the time than a quaint, but dilapitated movie set).

You can buy advance online tickets off Fandango at the following weblink...

http://www.fandango.com/johnnyguitarthebadlanders_157501/movieoverview

More details than you could ever imagine about this campy B movie at the following weblink...

http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s3926guit.html

 

 

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  • John

    Thanks Jono for re-introducing me to this "great" film. Interesting and fun film.

    August 17, 2012

  • Jono

    I have updated our JOHNNY GUITAR listing with some humorous anecdotes about the filming of the movie.

    August 8, 2012

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  • Jono
    Jono, Organizer
    Event Host
  • A former member

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