PAUSE IT: What do you see? Two contrasting images from the incomparable Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar (1954). A lynch mob of angry townsfolk led by the fiery Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge) has come to arrest saloon owner and town outsider Vienna (Joan Crawford). The mood is tense, with a sense of dread and looming violence. What will happen? Nicholas Ray, an acknowledged master of expressionistic color, chooses to lend the film’s climactic showdown a kind of heightened unreality by subtracting true color from the frame. Accordingly, our eyes are instead drawn to the stiffly posed subjects and their striking monochrome garb — it is as if Ray has decided to shoot a black & white scene in color. The use of color (or the abandonment of it) becomes almost another character. Ray goes great lengths to emphasize this, even going as far as to place, in non-traditional western fashion, the film’s ostensible “good guys” in black and its actual anti-hero in white.

This incredible, oddball film is coming to Olive Signature on September 20th. The new Blu-ray and DVD are mastered from a new 4K restoration and contain the following extras:

  • Introduction by Martin Scorsese
  • Audio commentary with historian and critic Geoff Andrew
  • “Tell Us She Was One of You: The Hollywood Blacklist and Johnny Guitar” – with historian Larry Ceplair and blacklisted screenwriter Walter Bernstein
  • Johnny Guitar: A Feminist Western?” – with critics Miriam Bale, Kent Jones, Joe McElhaney and B. Ruby Rich
  • “Free Republic: The Story of Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures” – with archivist Marc Wanamaker
  • “Johnny Guitar: A Western Like No Other” – with critics Miriam Bale, Kent Jones, Joe McElhaney and B. Ruby Rich
  • “My Friend, the American Friend” – Nicholas Ray biographical piece with Tom Farrell and Chris Sievernich
  • Johnny Guitar: The First Existential Western” – an original essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum
  • Theatrical trailer

Johnny Guitar (1954)
Director: Nicholas Ray
Cinematography by Harry Stradling Sr.
Starring Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine
You can preorder your copy on DVD and Blu-ray today!


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