Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar

Joan Crawford in Johnny Guitar

There are various things that make this such an incredible film, such as Peggy Lee‘s song, the complex and refreshingly central female characters in a Country and Western film, the fact that Francois Truffaut declared it one of his favourite films… I could go on.

But what I want to talk about is Joan Crawford‘s wardrobe design in the film. Seeing Joan in her high waisted trousers and buttoned up cowboy shirts has made me suspect that I may finally be an adult. When I was 7, one of my deepest desires was for Calamity Jane to discard her leathers and fully embrace a buttercup yellow frilly dress. Tonight I gazed at Joan and applauded her (wardrobe designer’s) fine taste in tailoring and block colour. I would like to think  this indicates a certain maturity of spirit.

Joan’s co-star in Johnny Guitar, Mercedes McCambridge, did describe her as “a mean, tipsy, powerful, rotten-egg lady”, but does it really matter? Film stars aren’t meant to be nice, they’re meant to be spectacular.


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