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23

THURSDAY

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In Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le Fou, before Jean-Paul Belmondo leaves on an anti-bourgeois rampage, he first gives the maid permission to go to the movies. After all, Johnny Guitar is playing, so “she’s getting the right education.” And what might she have learned from director Nicholas Ray’s 1954 cult film? Perhaps how to make a western in which sexual tension is a more significant motivation than gold. And in which the members of posses and bank-robbing gangs talk more like alienated film-noir characters than cowboys. The strongest figure is a woman—played by Joan Crawford, of course—and Johnny himself (Sterling Hayden) might find peace if only he could put down that damn guitar and start shooting people again like he was meant to. With its vividly artificial colors and barely suppressed hysteria, Johnny Guitar is one of the weirdest westerns ever. It’s definitely an education. The film begins at 7 p.m. at the Library of Congress’ Pickford Theater, 101 Independence Ave. SE. Free. (202) 707-5677. (Mark Jenkins)