We Didn’t Invent It

On TCM today they ran Sterling Hayden pictures. I don’t see how you can present an anthology of his movies without showing Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar. Johnny Guitar has the well-worn Western plot: sheriff and gambler fight over dancehall girl. Except that in the case of Johnny Guitar the sheriff and gambler parts were played by Mercedes McCambridge and Joan Crawford while the dancehall girl part was played by Sterling Hayden. We didn’t invent the gender-switch movies we’ve had a spate of lately.

My guess is that in 50 years today’s batch of gender-switch movies will look as campy as Johnny Guitar does now. If they held an intramural scenery-chewing contest, it would probably look a lot like Johnny Guitar. Some directors can direct women (George Cukor) while others can’t. IMO Nicholas Ray falls into the latter category.

4 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    Don’t know how much sic-fi you still read, but it seems to me like we now have a majority of the books with female lead characters. The gender lead has switched. If you do have a male lead, they are gay half of the time. Really getting kind of boring.


  • Today’s science fiction and fantasy doesn’t interest me much. I had a subscription to Analog from about 1958 (when it was Astounding Science Fiction) to about 2000 when I realized I had lost interest. I occasionally read something written since 1970. I read the Harry Potter novels. They were okay.

  • sam Link

    The (imo) best (real) gender-switch movie was Turnabout. The final scene is a pip.

    And speaking of Sterling Hayden, the guy did in real life what John Wayne only did the in movies.

  • And speaking of Sterling Hayden

    And he was one of the best-looking leading men ever to appear on screen.

Leave a Comment