The French new wave fetishized Nick Ray (the “greatest” of post-war directors—Eric Rohmer) and Johnny Guitar (“a dream western, magical—unreal and delirious”—François Truffaut). Godard referenced Johnny Guitar in four of his ’60s features; Truffaut (who managed to review it twice) paid homage with Shoot the Piano Player and cited it in another ’60s feature. Can you ID the films?
1. The hero invites the heroine, as Sterling Hayden did Joan Crawford, to tell him lies, and like Crawford, she does.
2. A husband informs his wife he sent their maid to the movies because Johnny Guitar was playing: “Good for her education.”
3. A couple attends a screening of Johnny Guitar; on the way out, he tells her, “It’s not about horses and guns. It’s about people and emotion.”
4. A hippie cadre code-named Johnny Guitar attempts to make radio contact with another group: “Johnny Guitar calling Gosta Berling.”
5. A young political activist criticizes a Communist journal for attacking Johnny Guitar just because it is an American movie.
Research assistance: Ben Kenigsberg
Answers: 1. Le Petit Soldat (Godard, 1960) 2. Pierrot le Fou (Godard, 1965) 3. Mississippi Mermaid (Truffaut, 1969), 4. Weekend (Godard, 1967) 5. La Chinoise (Godard, 1967).
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 12, 2003