Johnny Guitar

  • Directors: Nicholas Ray
  • Producers: Herbert J Yates
  • Writers: Philip Yordan, Roy Chanslor
  • Genres: Film-Noir, Western
  • Actors: Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge, Scott Brady

On the outskirts of a wind-swept Arizona cattle town, an aggressive and strong-willed saloonkeeper named Vienna maintains a volatile relationship with the local cattlemen and townsfolk. Not only does she support the railroad being laid nearby (the cattlemen oppose it) but she permits a suspected stage robber called The Dancin’ Kid to share her bed, and his confederates to frequent her saloon.

Vienna’s ex-lover Johnny Guitar, a reformed gunslinger whose real name is Logan, arrives at the saloon, renews his love for Vienna, and offers her needed protection. Life is cozy for the two until one day The Dancin’ Kid and his gang rob the town bank. The townsfolk suspect Vienna has played a part. Led by the vengeful Emma Small, a cattle rancher who has long hated Vienna, the posse descends on Vienna’s saloon and burns it to the ground. Emma persuades the men to hang Vienna, but at the last second she is saved by Johnny Guitar.

Vienna and Johnny escape the posse and find refuge in The Dancin’ Kid’s secret hideaway. The posse tracks them. The Kid and his men are killed. Emma challenges Vienna to a showdown. Vienna is wounded in the duel, but she manages to kill Emma. A halt is called to the bloodbath by the posse’s leader, McIvers. Vienna and Johnny depart, hopeful that better days lie ahead.

Rebel Without a Cause

  • Directors: Nicholas Ray
  • Producers: David Weisbart
  • Writers: Nicholas Ray, Irving Shulman, Stewart Stern
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: James Dean, Natalie Wood, Sal Mineo

The main plot centers on Jim Stark (James Dean), a 17-year-old. Stark and his parents move to Los Angeles, where he enrolls at Dawson High School. The film begins with Stark brought into police station for public drunkenness. His mother, father and grandmother come to get him, and the film’s dilemma is introduced. Jim’s parents are frequently quarreling. Often the father is the one who tries to advocate for Jim; however, Jim’s mother, a naturally pushy woman, always wins. Jim feels betrayed both by this quarreling and by his father’s lack of moral strength, causing feelings of unrest and displacement. This shows later in the film when he repeatedly asks his father “what do you do when you have to be a man?”.

While trying to conform at the school, he becomes involved in a dispute with a local bully named Buzz Gunderson. While he tries to deal with Buzz (Corey Allen), he becomes friends with a 15-year-old boy, John, nick-named Plato (Sal Mineo), who was also at the police station the night of the opening scene for shooting puppies. Plato idolizes Jim, his real father having abandoned his family. Plato experiences many of the same problems as Jim, such as searching for meaning in life and dealing with parents who “don’t understand.”

Plato hides in the Griffith Observatory which is soon besieged by the police. Jim and Judy follow him inside, and Jim convinces Plato to lend him the gun, from which he silently removes the ammunition magazine (though he neglects the round in the chamber). When Plato steps out of the observatory, he becomes unstable again at the sight of the police and charges forward, brandishing his weapon. He is shot fatally by a police officer acting in defense of himself and the bystanders, despite Jim’s yelling to police that he removed the bullets. Plato was wearing Jim’s jacket at the time, and as a result, Jim’s parents (brought to the scene by police) think at first that Jim was shot. Mr. Stark then runs to comfort Jim, who is distraught by Plato’s death. Mr. Stark promises to be a stronger father, one that his son can depend on. Thus reconciled, Jim introduces Judy to his parents.

In a Lonely Place

  • Directors: Nicholas Ray
  • Producers: Robert Lord
  • Writers: Story, Dorothy B Hughes, Screenplay, Edmund H North, Andrew Solt
  • Genres: Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
  • Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy

Dixon ‘Dix’ Steele (Humphrey Bogart), a down-on-his-luck screenwriter who hasn’t had a hit in years, meets his agent, Mel Lippman (Art Smith), at a nightclub. Mel wants him to adapt a book for a movie. When they enter the club, the hat-check girl, Mildred Atkinson (Martha Stewart), is engrossed reading it and asks if she can finish it.

When Dix leaves, he is too tired to read the novel, so he asks Mildred to go home with him, to explain the plot. As they enter the courtyard of his apartment building, they encounter a new tenant, Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame). Mildred then describes the story and confirms what he had suspected – the book is trash. He gives her cabfare and she leaves.

The next morning, he is awakened by an old army buddy, police detective Brub Nicholai (Frank Lovejoy), who takes him downtown to be questioned by Captain Lochner (Carl Benton Reid). Mildred was murdered during the night and Dix is a suspect. Laurel is brought to the police station and confirms seeing the girl leave Dix’s apartment alone, but Lochner is still deeply suspicious; Dix shows absolutely no sympathy for the dead victim.

When Dix gets home, he checks up on Laurel. He finds out that she is an aspiring actress, with only a few low-budget films to her credit. They begin to fall in love; this invigorates Dix into going back to work with a vengeance, much to his agent’s delight.

Just then, the phone rings. It is Brub with good news: Mildred’s boyfriend (the character is named Henry Kesler, the same as the film’s associate producer) has confessed to her murder. Tragically, it is a day too late to salvage Dix and Laurel’s relationship.