In old Arizona, the proprietress of a gambling saloon stakes a claim to valuable land and incurs the enmity of a lady banker. To movie fans, this film is probably most remembered as the western starring two women. In Crawford's post MILDRED PIERCE "evil older woman" period, she plays Vienna, depravity incarnate, who is always dressed in black & will do most anything to hold on to her saloon. Mercedes McCambridge, as Emma Small, plays the woman who wants to take away Vienna's saloon: this seemed a primer for the latter's foray in "desperate women" roles. Many label this movie as offbeat and baroque, although it isn't excessively violent: rather it's chock-full of Freudian overtones. It's impossible to capture the odd beauty of this complex genre film in a quick essay because it is truly a one-of-a-kind original.
JOHNNY GUITAR certainly represents one of the most important Hollywood westerns, recognised at the time of its initial release by critics throughout Europe.