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.

The Asphalt Jungle

  • Directors: John Huston
  • Producers: Arthur Hornblow Jr
  • Writers: W R Burnett, Ben Maddow, John Huston
  • Genres: Crime, Film-Noir, Drama
  • Actors: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, Marilyn Monroe

Recently paroled from prison, legendary burglar “Doc” Riedenschneider (Jaffe), with funding from Alonzo Emmerich (Calhern), a crooked lawyer, gathers a small group of veteran criminals together in the Midwest for a big heist.

The film was shot in Los Angeles and Cincinnati, but the name of the city is never mentioned, giving the impression of an “urban jungle,” rather than of a real location. Doc’s gang consists of: Dix (Hayden), a hooligan from Kentucky with a gambling problem who sees the upcoming jewel heist as a means to finance his dream of buying back the horse farm that he lost during the Great Depression; Gus Minissi, a hunchbacked diner owner (Whitmore), who is hired as the getaway driver; Louis Ciavelli (Anthony Caruso), a professional safecracker, and Cobby, a bookie (Marc Lawrence) acting as the go-between.

In a tense scene during the well-planned crime (an 11-minute sequence in the film), the criminals confidently carry out the heist in a patient and calm manner. Ciavelli climbs down into a manhole, pounds his way through a brick wall, climbs the basement stairs to the jewelry store, deactivates the door’s alarm and lets in the other thieves, and then heads to the main safe. With care, he slides flat on his back under the electric-eye system, picks the gate’s lock, drills holes into the safe’s door, gingerly opens a corked bottle of nitroglycerin (called “the soup” by the characters), and sets off a charge on the jewelry store safe.

From this point on, the meticulously planned crime falls apart as the cops begin closing in on the gang one by one. That includes Emmerich, a double-crosser and an adulterer, who ends up cornered with his much-younger mistress, played by Monroe.

The Killing

  • Directors: Stanley Kubrick
  • Producers: James B Harris
  • Writers: Story, Lionel White, Screenplay, Stanley Kubrick, Jim Thompson
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller, Film-Noir
  • Actors: Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Vince Edwards, Jay C Flippen, Elisha Cook Jr, Marie Windsor

Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) is a veteran criminal planning one last heist before settling down and marrying Fay (Colleen Gray). His plan is to rob the money-counting room of a racetrack of two million dollars during a featured race, and to do this he assembles a team consisting of a corrupt cop (Ted de Corsia); George Peatty (Elisha Cook Jr.), a betting window teller at the track to give access to the backroom; a sharpshooter (Timothy Carey) to shoot the favorite horse during the race, distracting the crowd; a wrestler (Kola Kwariani, born 1903, Republic of Georgia) to provide another distraction by provoking a fight at the track bar, and the bartender (Joe Sawyer).

After a successful heist, the robbers return to the apartment where they were to meet and wait for Johnny to show up with the money so they can divide it. Unfortunately, George’s wife Sherry (Marie Windsor) has learned about the heist from her weak-willed husband, and she has told her boyfriend Val (Vince Edwards), who shows up at the apartment to rip them off. In the ensuing shootout, a badly wounded George is the sole survivor. He goes home and shoots Sherry before dying himself.

On his way to the apartment, Johnny sees George staggering on the street, and knows that something is wrong. He puts the cash in a old used suitcase, and he and Fay go to the airport to get on a plane to leave town – but when the bag falls off a cart on its way to be loaded on the plane, it opens up, and the money is blown all over the tarmac by the wind.

The Godfather

  • Directors: Francis Ford Coppola
  • Producers: Albert S Ruddy
  • Writers: Novel, Mario Puzo, Screenplay, Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Towne,
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Richard S Castellano, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard Conte, Diane Keaton

In late summer 1945, guests are gathered for the wedding reception of Don Vito Corleone’s daughter Connie and Carlo Rizzi. Vito (Marlon Brando), the head of the Corleone Mafia family – who is known to friends and associates as “Godfather” – and Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), the Corleone family lawyer and consigliere (counselor), are hearing requests for favors because “no Sicilian can refuse a request on his daughter’s wedding day”. Meanwhile, the Don’s youngest son Michael (Al Pacino), a decorated Marine war hero returning from World War II service, tells his girlfriend Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) anecdotes about his family, attempting to inform her about his father’s criminal life; he reassures her that he is different from his family. Among depicting the marriage of Connie and Carlo, the wedding scene also serves as a critical exposition scene for the remainder of the film, as Michael figuratively introduces the main characters to Kay.

Among the guests at the celebration is the famous singer Johnny Fontane (Al Martino), Corleone’s godson, who has come from Hollywood to petition Vito’s help in landing a movie role that will revitalize his flagging career. Jack Woltz (John Marley), the head of the studio, denies Fontane the part, but Don Corleone explains to Johnny: “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Hagen is dispatched to California to fix the problem, but Woltz angrily tells him that he will never cast Fontane in the role, for which he is perfect and will make him an even bigger star, because Fontane seduced and “ruined” a starlet that Woltz favored. Woltz is persuaded otherwise, however, when he wakes up early the next morning and feels something wet in his bed. He pulls back the sheets, and finds himself in a pool of blood with the severed head of his prized $600,000 stud horse, Khartoum, in the bed with him, and screams in horror.[5]

The book’s ending differs from the movie: whereas in the film Kay suddenly realizes that Michael has become “like his family”, the drama is toned down in the book. She leaves Michael and goes to stay with her parents. When Tom Hagen visits her there, he lets her in on family secrets for which, according to him, he would be killed should Michael find out what he has revealed. This is then followed by Kay’s visit to the church, where she prays for her husband’s soul.