Nicholas Ray directs this prime example of vivid 50s melodrama. Vienna (Joan Crawford) is an Arizona saloon owner who also controls the local gambling operation. The arrival of the local railroad looks to be a profitable development, but Vienna has a problem in the form of the vindictive Emma Small (Mercedes McCambridge), who is after her land. Small and a posse accuse Vienna and the Dancin' Kid (Scott Brady) of being behind a stagecoach job. Although innocent, Vienna finds herself being hounded out of town. She turns for support to her former lover, Johnny Guitar (Sterling Hayden), but matters take a turn for the worse when she is caught up in a bank heist.