-> ''What if you go, what if you stay, I love you\\
But if you're cruel, you can be kind, I know\\
There was never a man like my Johnny\\
Like the one they call Johnny Guitar''
->- Title Song by Peggy Lee

''Johnny Guitar'' is a 1954 [[TheWestern Western]] directed by Creator/NicholasRay, starring Creator/SterlingHayden, Creator/JoanCrawford, Mercedes [=McCambridge=], Ernest Borginine and Ward Bond. It was produced by Republic Pictures and shot in the candy-coloured Trucolor format.

Vienna (Crawford) is the owner of a Saloon in a town in Arizona that is in the period of transition. A successful businesswoman, she is the object of envy by Emma Small ([=McCambridge=]) a cattle baron's daughter who loathes Vienna and the new level of influence she would have at the onset of a railroad that Vienna supports against the interest of the cattle owners. Things change for Vienna with the unexpected arrival of two men. The Dancin Kid (Scott Brady), the leader of a band of outlaws, who is accused of holding up a stagecoach and enjoys flirting with Vienna, the other is Johnny "Guitar" Logan (Hayden), a drifter with a guitar who is also an OldFlame that Vienna hoped to forget. The explosive relationships between the characters soon gets out of control, plunging into chaos.

Famous in later years for being an "avant-garde" Western, Johnny Guitar is known for its bright colours and visuals, its unusual set design, strong female protagonists and anti-authoritarian sentiments rare for Westerns of Main/TheFifties.

!! Tropes appearing in this film include:
* BigBad: Emma Small, who is one of the scariest villains in all Westerns.
* CreateYourOwnVillain: The Dancin' Kid and his gang weren't responsible for the heist the townsfolk accuse them of, but eventually the outlaws decide ThenLetMeBeEvil and rob the town bank to spite them.
* DarkAndTroubledPast: Vienna and Johnny Logan were once lovers, and Logan was [[spoiler:a brutal outlaw who rode with posses and killed for a living, who eventually had to leave Vienna, forcing her into prostitution until she eventually saved enough to start her own business]].
* {{Deconstruction}}: One of the first Westerns to definitively upturn many of its genre conventions.
** The classic White Hat=Good and Black Hat=Evil division in Westerns is turned since the film's villains are the "townsfolk" whipped into a frenzy by Emma Small and they are all dressed in black, while the protagonists and the outlaws are dressed in colourful clothes of different shades. Indeed, it's Small's insistence on seeing her enemies as entirely evil and in cahoots with each other, ignoring the divisions between them that leads to violence.
** It also examines the attraction and danger of gun violence. Turkey, the young outlaw of the Dancin' Kid's gang associates masculinity with being a a fast shooter, whereas Johnny Logan is a RetiredOutlaw who is fleeing his outlaw past by trading a weapon for a guitar.
** Frontier justice is nothing more than brutal KangarooCourt that leads to the townsfolk and authorities acting like another gang, and in many ways being far worse than the outlaws. Emma Small the "leader" of the posse uses the Dancin' Kid and other crimes as an excuse for her personal rivalry with Vienna.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: The posse blackmail and bully Turkey, the young member of the Outlaw gang to denounce Vienna as an accomplice (which she isn't). When they threaten to lynch him, Turkey asks Vienna what to do, to which she says, "Save yourself!" leading Turkey to lie and name Vienna as an accomplice. The posse then [[spoiler:lynches Turkey anyway, and would have hung Vienna had Johnny Guitar not come and saved her]]. This was an attack on the [=HUAC=] which blacklisted and shamed everyone who came to them to testify.
* TheDrifter: As Johnny Logan says:
--> '''Johnny Guitar''': "I've a great respect for a gun, and besides I'm a stranger here myself!"
* {{Irony}}: Emma Small hates Vienna for her untraditional ways and for acting like a man. Yet, by sheer charisma and conviction, Emma leads the very patriarchal posse against Vienna, flouting the traditional ways of women as well.
* KangarooCourt: The townsfolk and cattle barons form a "posse" self appointed vigilantes who appoint themselves judge, jury and executioner and lynch their captives regardless of degree or kind of crime, or sufficient evidence:
--> '''Johnny Guitar''': ''A posse isn't people. I've ridden with 'em, and I've ridden against 'em. A posse is an animal that moves like one and thinks like one.''
--> '''Vienna''': ''They're men with itchy fingers and a coil of rope around their saddle horns, lookin' for somebody to hang. And after riding a few hours they don't care much who they hang.''
* SaloonOwner: Vienna is a rare protagonist version. She built a small saloon that eventually became the hub of the local town and is set to prosper with the arrival of the railroad. Her saloon is located at the base of a canyon, and has lodgings, gambling tables and a disciplined staff.
* SecondaryCharacterTitle: Johnny Guitar is the {{Deuteragonist}}, the true main character is Vienna.
* ShoutOut:
** The blues musician Music/JohnnyGuitarWatson named himself in {{homage}} to this film.
** Creator/FrancoisTruffaut's ''Mississippi Mermaid'' has two characters seeing this film and admiring it. Truffaut as a critic was a champion of this film.
* TakeThat: Nicholas Ray and the screenwriters, Philip Yordan and an uncredited Ben Maddow (writing under a front because he was [[UsefulNotes/TheHollywoodBlacklist blacklisted]])intended the posse led by Emma Small to be one for [=McCartyhism=]. Ward Bond, one of the leaders of the anti-Communist Motion Picture Alliance plays one of the posse-leaders (albeit a more reluctant sort than Emma).
* YoungGun: "Turkey", one of the Dancing Kid's gang. When Vienna (Creator/JoanCrawford) tells him he's still a boy, he tries to prove he's a man by shooting at saltshakers off a table. Johnny Guitar(Sterling Hayden) rushes in and shoots the gun out of his hand.
* WomanInWhite: Vienna wears a white dress when [[spoiler:Emma and her posse arrive in the saloon to lynch her]]. For added effect, she plays a piano.