Johnny Guitar ★★★★

“There's nothin' like a good smoke and a cuppa' coffee. You know, some men got the craving for gold and silver. Others need lotsa' land, with herds of cattle. And then there's those that got the weakness for whiskey, and for women. When you boil it all down, what does a man really need? Just a smoke and a cup of coffee.”

Johnny Guitar deconstructs ideals of manhood— what it means to be a man, what it takes to become one—, a fairly conventional trademark of the best westerns. Nicholas Ray, however, seems more interested in filtering these ideas through a woman’s gentle, yet determined eyes (Joan Crawford). All of a sudden, these machista notions seem boorish, unnecessary, infantile. At some point Vienna even says “boys who play with guns need to be ready to die like men,” the mark of an outsider taking in the idiotic chaos around her. Ultimately, though, Johnny Guitar is about love lost and redemption, the ability to swallow pride in order to find happiness. I thought a lot about Wonder Woman throughout, and how Vienna deals with a violent world, how she uses her femininity to find nuance, understanding when to push and when to compromise. She leads by example, and follows those who she deems intelligent. She’s a strong woman who’s ready to fight but never neglects her uniquely feminine traits. And she’s all the more powerful because of it. Wonder Woman could’ve learned a thing or two from Crawford.

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