Where is Johnny Guitar Filmed? All About Production Of The Western Drama

Johnny Guitar Filming Locations
Joan Crawford

‘Johnny Guitar’ (1954) by Nicholas Ray is without a doubt one of the most prominent melodramas. It is one of the boldest and most stylish films of its time. Johnny Guitar’s screenplay was based on a novel By Roy Chanslor. The main leads of Johnny Guitar are Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Ernest Borgnine, and Scott Brady. This film was quite different from the traditional ones since the main lead was Joan Crawford, and in 1954, there were only a few films that had female actors as a lead.

Johnny Guitar is one of the most significant films of the era because it was culturally, historically, and aesthetically important. In 2008, Johnny Guitar was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Johnny Guitar was filmed at various locations, and every time someone watches the film, they wonder what all locations would have been the part of the shoot. Here, we are to take you through the filming locations of Johnny Guitar, the plot of the film, and what were the critical reactions received after the film was released.

Johnny Guitar Plot 

Johnny Guitar is unquestionably one of the most important Hollywood westerns. An aggressive and strong-willed saloonkeeper named Vienna maintains a tumultuous relationship with the local cattlemen and townsfolk on the fringes of a wind-swept Arizona cattle town. Not only does she favor the adjacent railroad (the cattlemen are opposed), but she also allows “The Dancin’ Kid” and his associates to attend her bar.

Sterling Haydon as Johnny Guitar
Sterling Haydon

Dancin’ Kid and his gang loot the town bank to pay for their escape to California. The pass is closed due to a railroad team dynamiting a route in, so they run back to their hidden hiding under a waterfall. Emma Small persuades the townspeople that Vienna is just as guilty as the rest of them, and the staff follows her to her bar. When one of the injured bank thieves, Turkey, is discovered under a table, it looks that Vienna has won yet another verbal brawl. Emma convinces the guys to hang Vienna and Turkey and burns down the tavern. Johnny Guitar saves Vienna at the last second. Vienna and Johnny flee the posse and seek safety in Dancin’ Kid’s hidden lair.

The staff apprehends them, and the remaining two of Kid’s men are assassinated as a result of infighting. McIvers, the staff commander, calls an end to the bloodshed. Emma challenges Vienna to a fight and shoots her in the shoulder; Dancin’ Kid screams out to Emma but is killed by a gunshot to the skull from an enraged Emma. Then Vienna shoots Emma in the head. The gang lets Johnny and Vienna leave the hideaway in peace, keeping a close eye on them.

Johnny Guitar Filming Locations

Crawford and Nick Ray were set to work on a picture called Lisbon at Paramount. But the script was deemed unsuitable. Crawford owned the film rights to the novel, which author Roy Chanslor had dedicated to her. And she presented the script to Republic, who hired Ray to direct Johnny Guitar.

Joan Crawford as Vienna
Joan Crawford

Johnny Guitar was filmed between October 1953 till December 1953. Johnny Guitar had 8 filming locations. Sedona, Red Rock Crossing, Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, Schnebly Hill, Courthouse Butte, Oak Creek Canyon were the filming locations in Arizona, USA. Republic Studios was also one of the filming locations of Johnny Guitar. 

Release Date of Johnny Guitar

Johnny Guitar was released on May 7, 1954, in Los Angeles. Then on May 26, 1954, it was released in New York City, and on August 23, 1954, in the United States. Johnny Guitar generated $2.5 million in North American rentals during its theatrical run.

Johnny Guitar was turned into a stage musical, which premiered Off-Broadway in 2004. The book was written by American television producer Nicholas van Hoogstraten, the lyrics were written by Joel Higgins, and the music was composed by Martin Silvestri and Joel Higgins.

Critical Reactions To Johnny Guitar

Johnny Guitar received mixed reactions. Some have labeled the film as offbeat and dinghy. According to them, the actors were not able to do justice to their character. The color scheme of Johnny Guitar was also one of the concerns to some of the viewers. On the other hand, Harrison’s Reports appreciated Johnny Guitar, describing it as “one of the best films of its kind. Despite being loaded with a lot of ‘talky’ sequences, its blend of romance, anger, and violence grabs one’s attention throughout. 

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