Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: Johnny Come Lately
“Johnny Come Lately” is a little, independent film from 1943 starring Cagney and produced by his brother William.
Different in many ways from Cagney’s Warner Brothers movies, “Johnny Come Lately” is a quiet, nostalgic picture about a kindly older woman who has been running a small-town newspaper, but who is about to be run out of business by a corrupt mayor and his cronies.
Cagney enters the fray as a free-spirited vagabond who turns out to be an experienced reporter. To help the lady, he takes on the job of running her paper and running the mayor and his flunkies out of town.
The film has tons of charm but struggles against itself. Cagney’s natural personality is too energetic for such a leisurely film. Viewers may grow impatient with a movie that is in no rush to get going and takes too long before bringing Cagney into the story.
Co-starring with Jimmy is Grace George, a stage actress who spent much of her career on Broadway and made only two films, this one and a previous one in 1915. For an actress with nearly no film experience, Grace George is wonderful, and she is the reason anyone might forgive this movie’s slow pace.
Also in the picture in supporting roles are the lovely Marjorie Lord, as the woman’s niece, the great Hattie McDaniel as the woman’s sympathetic cook, Edward McNamara, who antagonized Cagney in several Warner’s pictures, as the mayor, and the loudly exuberant Marjorie Main as the madam of a thinly disguised bawdy house.
“Johnny Come Lately” was based on a novel called McLeod's Folly by Louis Bromfield. It was directed by Hollywood veteran William K. Howard, released through United Artists as a William Cagney Production, and is now available on DVD.
Posted by Elgin Bleecker at 5:32 PM
Labels: Grace George, James Cagney, Johnny Come Lately
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I've not seen Cagney in that much, I'm shamefaced enough to admit. Angels With Dirty Faces remains a favourite.ReplyDelete
No shame in liking “Angels.” It is probably the best and most fun of the James Cagney-Pat O’Brien movies. You also get Ann Sheridan and the Dead End Kids. I hope you have seen “White Heat,” one of the best crime films by the great action director, Raoul Walsh.Delete
I'll double check on White Heat. The title rings a bell.Delete
Elgin, I think I have seen just two Cagney films one of which was "Angels with Dirty Faces" which at the time inspired me to watch some of his other films. Never got round to it, though.ReplyDelete
Prashant – Cagney is best known today for his gangster films, but he was at heart a song and dance man and you can see that side of him in movies like “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Footlight Parade.” Hope you get a chance to see some more of his pictures.Delete
Very interesting. My husband and I are both big James Cagney fans and neither one of us had hear of this movie. I will definitely have to seek it out.ReplyDelete
I too am a big Cagney fan and thought I had seen all his pictures.Delete
I know I am in a BIG minority, but I was never a big fan of Jimmy Cagney. Can't quite explain why. Maybe he was just too pugnacious. I don't know. At any rate, it was interesting to read this review, Elgin, of a film I'd never heard of. The screenplay has a familiar ring to it, probably because this was a very popular theme back in the day. I do love Marjorie Main and Hattie MacDaniel.ReplyDelete
Yvette – If you ever see a Cagney picture called “The Strawberry Blonde” playing on TCM or some other place, please catch it. Cagney is still pugnacious, but it has a lot more heart and tenderness than most of his tough-guy films.Delete
have not seen this one. I've actually watched very few movies from before the late 60sReplyDelete