Terrific matinee fare on a soggy afternoon for "Johnny Guitar" (1954), C4, Nicholas Ray's high- camp western sustained by the repressed sexuality of the two female protagonists, Joan Crawford and a stylish Mercedes McCambridge. I still recall the wide-eyed astonishment at their final shoot out on the film's release.
Nicholas Ray (1911-1979) made a growing reputation for several films focussed on the outsider; "They Live by Night" (1947), "Knock on Any Door" (1949), "In A Lonely Place" (1950) - still one of my favourites - and "Rebel Without A Cause" (1955), establishing a short lived career for James Dean and "Bigger than Life" (1956) with James Mason at his best. He'd been a writer and stage director who always managed to attract the best character actors to create an ensemble. Old timer, John Carradine made one of his last appearances in "Johnny Guitar", (you may remember his classy gambler in John Ford's "Stagecoach" (1939), only had a few short scenes but established his character instantly, "Like the man says, 'All a fella needs is a good smoke and a cup o' cawfee'. Victor Young, post "Shane" (1953), provided yet another catchy score with the title song sung by Peggy Lee in the closing sequence. And a sumptuous use of colour, a rarity for Republic Pictures which churned out low budget features in black and white. Now a welcome addition to my DVD archive.