The other night I watched Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge in the classic 50’s western- “Johnny Guitar”.
It has been said that as a movie it is a pure Lesbian romp around the old west. Joan and Mercedes- after all, are the only women appearing in the film- except for a couple of the horses. It’s a Republic Release and in colour. Joan’s lips are scary. They stand out from everything else on the screen, except for a bright, red neck neckerchief she wraps around her neck from time- to-time but the lips win it!
Joan's lips are magnificent and kiss the camera with rubbery kindness.
Mercedes has her moments. Was she a Lesbian in real life? I believe she was. She has a scene where just after she buries her brother- he died of course, she’s off to track down four bank robbers who stole all the town’s money during the funeral. Mercedes gets so caught up in the chase she straps on a gunbelt right over her black dress and jumps on a waiting horse and rides away, veil flapping in the breeze.
Now, without spoiling the ending for you- like that matters, here’s a short version of “Johnny Guitar” from me!
“Hello there”- says Joan dressed in a flowing, virginal-white, chiffon gown, cinched with a tasteful black bow. “What’s your name, Blondie?” she says asking the tall, boot-clad stranger standing in front of her.
“Why it’s Johnny Ma’am.”- says the tall buckskin wearing brute.
“Johnny. Johnny what?”- Joan smiles sweetly as she applies a fresh coat of Max Factor Red number 7 to her pursed lips.
“What?”- says Johnny.
“Yes Darling. What is it?”- Joan asks eagerly as she straightens a coat hanger.
Johnny doesn’t quite follow- “What is what, Ma’am?”
“Oh, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny.”- Joan cries, “Why I mean your name, silly.”- she smiles and pours herself a 4 finger shot of whiskey from the long bar which is supported by huge wooden barrels along it’s length. As she sips the honey-coloured brew, she slaps the straightened hanger hard against her outstretched palm.
“Boy!”- Johnny cries, “That’s a big one!” He points.
“Yes, I was thinking the same thing.” Joan smiles broadly- like a Lesbian at a Victoria Secrets Show, as she glances down at Johnny’s crotch. Her face suddenly turns red as she realizes Johnny is looking down, into her heavily made up Max Factor’s face.
“Oh you mean that!” She points a glossy red nailed finger towards the bar. “That’s called a bar Johnny. It’s my bar in this saloon named after me “Velma's!”
“Wow! She’s a beaut Joannie!”
“Umm. Johnny call me Velma.”
“Johnny is a little confused. “Why?”- he wants to know.
“Because Velma is my character’s name in this movie, silly man-boy.”
“Oh sure. I get it now.”- Johnny hikes up his jeans and sits on a stool at the bar.
“So?”- says Joan…er, I mean Velma.
“So? No. I can’t even knit.” Johnny pours himself three fingers of scotch.
“Oh Johnny for Fuck sakes what’s your full name. First and last?” Velma slaps his fingers with the metal hanger.
“Oh that. Ouch! It’s Johnny. Johnny Guitar.”- He licks his fingers. The whiskey had sloshed over the edge of his glass as Velma swatted his fingers brutally with her hanger.
“Stop that this Instant!”
“Oh fine!”- says Velma, “It’s miss pure and lovely. The one and only Emma Small.”
“Why don’t you pull your big red lips over your ugly puss and swallow yourself to death!”- Emma says in her usual fine form, as she pushes through the swinging half-doors.
“Yes, well Emma, why don’t you take three of those pudgy, strong, thick fingers of yours and shove them hard, right up my...”
“Whiskey?”- says Johnny Guitar as he grasps the bottle’s long neck, making a pouring action.
“Oh. Yes. That would be lovely.”- Emma’s brow emits a single line of perspiration.
“Well, aren’t you the lucky one. Johnny pours whiskey like a pro. That’s why they called him ‘Whisky Boy’ back in Albadoo.”
“Albadoo?” Emma is puzzled.
“Ya- Albadoo. A little armpit of a town just outside Calgary.”
Johnny nodded. He seemed proud of his Albadoo.
“I got a bone to pick with you Miss Velma- you tramp. I’m a giving you 24 hours to close this hotel and vamoose to somewhere where they accept your kind.” Emma sounded mad and upset.
“How dare you. You little rapscallion!” Velma is pissed and not on the whiskey. “Just get your small Emma’s ass….”
Emma quickly corrects her- “That’s Emma Small’s ass.”
“Fine! Emma Small’s ass, back out that door and onto your horse and get out of my sight. Out of my bar and out of my life you big dyke!”
Emma smashes her glass against a nearby piano and screams as she heads for the door-
“THIS WILL NOT BE THE LAST YOU HEAR FROM ME YOU MAN-LIKE WOMAN WHORE!”. She slams the door behind her. It opens again. Emma shouts- “AND YOUR LIPS LOOK LIKE A GIANT VAGINA, VELMA. SO THERE!
Velma stares at the closed door for a moment. Then she turns back to Johnny sitting at the bar. “Wow. I am so sorry about that Johnny.”
“About what?” Johnny is dumb and founded.
“Oh never mind. Just never, never mind you big, huge, broad-backed hulk of a man.”
She pauses for a second.
“May I call you Betty?”
“Uh-huh. Sure. You keep this glass full Miss Velma and you can strip me naked, slap my ass till it’s raw and you ride me round and round this room till my kneecaps bleed”.
Velma smiles. “Yahoo”- crosses her mind.
“Bizarre”- she thinks.
Her huge, red, Max Factor lips shimmered in the movie lights. As she shivered with……