Troy Patterson
April 09, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Johnny Guitar

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
performer
Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine, Mercedes McCambridge
director
Nicholas Ray
genre
Western

We gave it a B-

At home on the range between diverting tongue-in-cheekiness and intolerably arch whimsy, the creators of this musical (?) have reduced Nicholas Ray’s 1954 Western (!) to a trifle. To kitsch up something already as overheated as the original film — a delirious showdown between Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge — is to turn it into low camp. So, as bank robbers stop, mid-holdup, to thrust their heads from a vault and sing harmony, we discover that deep strangeness has been replaced by clever fluff. The show succeeds on its own terms, but they are meager. (TC)

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