for all its immediate pleasures as a work of genre (and they are great and many), johnny guitar ultimately remains mysterious. my memory of the film is always dominated by the searing quality of the images and ray’s idiosyncratic compositions, though perhaps even more adventurous and exciting are the jarring, sometimes frightening, spatial and temporal shifts made by the cutting. perhaps the most radical decoupage of any classical studio film! also, does any other western betray such a potent sense…
like tootie in meet me in st. louis and manuela in the pirate, eddie is one of minnelli’s fiercely imaginative heroes of self-creation and disruption. through the emphasis of a particular gesture or the simple brandishing of a garment, these characters come to control space, thereby complicating minnelli’s world of theatricality and spectacle. consider the early scene in which eddie’s emotional response to the death of a goldfish temporarily undercuts the preceding cutesy comedy with a sense of morbid intensity.
i’m having some trouble determining how ginnie in some came running figures into this lineage of minnellian character. anyone have thoughts on this?
seeing this again today on 35mm helped to clarify bresson’s relationship with chaplin — precision of editing arises out of a deep understanding of physical gesture. as rosenbaum said, it’s important to remember that this is chaplin’s first sound feature, and his mastery of sound becomes a key part of what makes it so moving. a great masterpiece, really one of my very favorite films.
bares some relation to later neo-lumieres like jeanne dielman in the sense that it's a film in which the characters are essentially entities defined by action and movement. this may not be immediately apparent, however, due to the fact that the film's actualities are thrown off by being placed within the context of the lush, deliberately artificial technicolor aesthetics typical of the swashbuckler adventure genre of the late 40's & early 50's. The underlying sense of dread (bordering on terror) that…