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Joan Crawford as Vienna in Nicholas Ray’s JOHNNY GUITAR, 1954


Nicholas Rey, 1954

Joan Crawford as Vienna, Mercedes McCambridge as Emma and Sterling Hayden as “Johnny Guitar” 

Emma: “I’m going to kill you.”
Vienna: “I know. If I don’t kill you first.”

Perhaps the strangest Hollywood Western ever made. Is it a cleverly disguised metaphor for the horrors of the McCarthy Era or an early peek into the taboo of lesbians on the wild frontier? Some sort of trouble brewing in JOHNNY GUITAR

From a typical over-the-top-of-the-Hollywood-Sign performance by Joan Crawford – who seems twice “the man” of any male character in the movie to the Actors Studio Turn of Mercedes McCambridge seething with both anger/lust for Joan Crawford’s character.

Mercedes McCambridge giving all the confused and angry lesbian subtext she can muster as Emma in JOHNNY GUITAR

From the the “oddly” soft performances and lines of the male characters to the almost surreal back-drop of the walls of Joan Crawford’s salon.

I believe the saloon is meant to be built into the earth, but the purposely fake set looks suspiciously yonic. Which of course brings a whole new concept of “eating scenery” — especially for Ms. Crawford. 

Joan Crawford barely notices the strumming of Johnny and he does not seem to mind…

Johnny: “There’s only two things in this world that a REAL MAN NEEDS a man NEEDS in this world: a cup of coffee and a good smoke…”


A solid wall between Mr. Guitar and Vienna in JOHNNY GUITAR

Whatever – you will never get bored watching JOHNNY GUITAR…

JOHNNY GUITAR: Certainly Art. Certainly Strange. Certainly Entertaining. But, what does it all mean?

Olive Films has finally issued a remastered print of JOHNNY GUITAR on Blu-Ray which features an introduction by Martin Scorsese. An endlessly interesting twist of a Hollywood Western. 

Matty Stanfield


A Film By Lynne Ramsay


Lynne Ramsay, 2011

Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller

Musical Score: Jonny Greenwood

“…In the wake of a tragedy like the Colorado shooting, the families of victims must navigate a complicated emotional landscape. But so, too, must the families of those charged with the crimes, as they suddenly face all kinds of deeply disturbing questions…”

, NPR – All Things considered, August 1.2012

Tilda Swinton and John C. Riley in WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

With the most recent senseless tragedy, it reminds me of how everyone gets tied up in all the wrong questions — the biggest error in thinking is to ask “why” —

Something that both the book and the film by Lynne Ramsay address is that beyond that insanely simple question lies the more important concern: “how does this end up happening?” 

As a society we are so quick to blame the parents, but in truth the problem goes much deeper. The “signs” and “messages” sent by a child/young person/adult sends are sometimes quiet and disarming to those closest to them. Objectively, there are always “signs” and “messages” but we as a society fail to take notice. We fail to address. We fail to actually listen to the people around us. 

A parent going it alone in her concerns…

When a spouse/parent/sibling/lover/teacher/doctor/fellow student/co-worker/friend/supervisor notices something and brings it to the attention of another – the knee jerk reaction is to comfort and question. This knee jerk reaction is a more comfortable way to respond to someone saying things like:

“I’m concerned about the way Kevin is acting.” 

“Kevin acts one way with you but another with me.”

“Something Kevin did really worries me.”

“Why does Kevin never come out of his room?”

…is to say something like: 

“Oh, I’m sure Kevin will be fine.”

“Don’t worry so much. Kevin is just going through a phase.”

“I think you’re exaggerating.”

“Oh, well, look it – Kevin’s under a lot of pressure. He’ll work through it.” 

This is a mistake. Not only do we fail to provide an individual to express their concerns and treat them as possibly valid as have many relatives, friends, co-workers, teachers, students and even doctors. This was certainly the case for the families of the two students who committed the unspeakable crimes in Columbine. The parents did seek help and it is clear that the parents of the young man who premeditated a horror beyond imagination at a cinema in Colorado. 

If someone in your life expresses a concern about anything — you need to listen and talk about Kevin. 

The self-defensive and easy way is to avoid discussion. The important thing is to actually push to discuss and address.  Otherwise, the caring people closest to the criminals are left alone. Isolated and blamed. Ignored, Alone and Ultimately Blamed...

We learn this from every family that goes through the horror of discovering that their child or their husband or lover or friend or brother or sister or relative is a mass murderer.  And, most often, we as a society/culture place the blame on those closest to the criminal. They then become the ultimate criminal in our minds. Which is so wrong.

No parent sets out to raise a cold-blooded killer. 

A mother worries. A father rolls his eyes. And, a doctor hurries through and pays no attention…

We need not ask “why” — we need to ask “how” and to start listening to the people we care about and with whom we share and spend our time. 

“Why” is the easy way out….

Recently, the father of the man who is The Unabomber stated that he and his wife plan to write the parents of the man who took so many innocent lives in a Colorado cinema to let them know that they are not alone and that they are available to talk with them if they need to do so.
Imagine the enormous feeling of guilt and absolute failure to discover that your child has committed such an evil act.
My love and positive thoughts for healing go out to all the people who lost so much but also to the family of the man who caused these loses.
Matty Stanfield