The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, November 11-17

Courtesy of Film Forum
Joan Crawford in Nicholas Ray’s JOHNNY GUITAR (1954). Courtesy Film Forum. Playing November 13-19.

Johnny Guitar (1954)
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Johnny Guitar may not have the pedigree of The Searchers or the easy lovability of Rio Bravo, but it’s arguably twice as compelling as any classic western because it’s internally calibrated to a completely unique rhythm. Ray turned every genre into dance, sometimes a sensual ballet, sometimes a furious tango. Johnny Guitar is his paranoid waltz, with enough partner changes and tempo changes to make your head spin; only Ray knows the choreography, and he spins his characters and his audience around with abandon. A conspiratorial mob scene of Shakespearian allegiances (set largely in a womb-like gambling hall) slowly thaws revealing a tender respite before blood boils and spills all over the painted landscape. Once seen, never forgotten. Scout Tafoya (November 13-19 at Film Forum; showtimes daily)


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