Joan Crawford is headstrong Vienna, a saloon owner waiting for the railroad to reach her town. Her friendship with charming outlaw the Dancing Kid (Scott Brady) jeopardizes her standing in the local community. Uptight landowners led by jealous Emma (a frightening Mercedes McCambridge) will do anything to repress her yen for the Kid, even if it means lynching half the town to do it. Enter Vienna’s old flame, Johnny (Sterling Hayden), a quick-draw who’s given up guns for a guitar. Only director Nicholas Ray could pull off this color-coded, violent, romantic tall tale rife with allegorical references to the rabid right wing of 1950s America. Victor Young did the lush score, with Peggy Lee singing the torrid theme song. Co-starring Ward Bond, Ernest Borgnine, John Carradine.
A brilliant, moody drama of a screenwriter (Humphrey Bogart) accused of murder, and the starlet (Gloria Grahame) afraid to trust him. On one level, a poisonous rejection of all things Hollywood; on another, a love triangle of almost demonic intensity between the director and his two stars. Although Dorothy B. Hughes’ original novel also possessed a desolate ending, Ray’s equally downbeat climax was quite different and undoubtedly did not find favor with the studio powers-that-be. Co-starring Frank Lovejoy.
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