Saddle up with Ladies of Burlesque as we transport you to the Wild West with JOHNNY GUITAR—Nicolas Ray’s revisionist psychosexual masterpiece starring Joan Crawford in one of her most iconic roles. The “Beauty and the Beast of Westerns,” with Crawford as the Beast according to François Truffaut, JOHNNY GUITAR—presented in a gorgeous 4K restoration—toys with gender normativity, twisting it and creating a salacious queered text that gets better as it ages. And with a burlesque performance from Sam Antics, this screening is guaranteed to have your britches burning!
Outfitted in a pair of Levis, Crawford plays Vienna, a strong-willed, gun-slinging saloonkeeper, who plans to start a town of her own. The townspeople, however, led by Vienna’s archenemy Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge in a role originally meant for Bette Davis) want to run Vienna out of town (or worse, hang her) for her alliance with a group of bank robbers. Coming to Vienna’s defense—Johnny Guitar (Hayden), her former lover newly arrived in town to stir things up.
Crawford and McCambridge loathed each other on set, which Ray exploited to a wonderful “bitchy” effect (their rivalry came to a head when Crawford threw McCambridge’s clothes onto the Arizona highway). This onscreen chemical fire is fueled with fetishist fury—something that enraged audiences and critics at the time. Today, however, JOHNNY GUITAR is the ultimate cat fight—so come out and watch the fur fly!
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