The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, March 22-28

nyc repertory-Johnny-Guitar

Johnny Guitar (1954)
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Even though Ray’s Western classic is named for the gunslinger played by rugged film noir star Sterling Hayden, it is in fact a film helmed by Vienna, a fearless saloon owner in a small desert town in Arizona. Vienna is played by a belligerent Joan Crawford, whose steel-blue eyes and blood-red lips are as combative as the men’s fast draws. The film packs as much gunfire as sharp dialogue, featuring plenty of sassy remarks, snarky responses and a handful of memorable quotes, like Vienna’s defiant warning to the local armed posse as she looks down at them from her grand saloon staircase: “I intend to be buried here… in the 20th century!”

Equally memorable are Crawford’s striking costumes and their saturated colors, particularly bright yellow, deep green and red. (Such colors were the effect of the film’s low-cost Trucolor process, which was a trademark process employed by Republic Pictures.)

But when the film opened it was coldly received. Bosley Crowther of the Times called it a “fiasco” and a “walk-through of western cliches.” In contrast, François Truffaut praised the film’s theatrics” “It is dreamed, a fairy tale, a hallucinatory Western.” Alejandro Veciana (March 22, 7pm at the Alamo Drafthouse)

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