Too Much Johnson (1938) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Posing as wealthy Cuban plantation owner Joseph Johnson, Augustus Billings is having an affair with married Clairette Dathis. Augustus is able to get away just before Clairette's husband, Leon Dathis, comes home. But Leon finds out about the affair. With Augustus' photograph in hand, Leon goes on a search for his wife's lover. The ensuing chase leads to one sight gag close call after another. Eventually, the real Joseph Johnson in Cuba gets unwittingly into the act.

  • A woman has two lovers. When one man finds out about the other, he acts as a villain and chases after the protagonist.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A lawyer (Joseph Cotten) having an affair with a married woman is discovered by her husband, who does not actually see him, but obtains a torn photo of the top half of the lawyer's face. The husband chases the lawyer across the rooftops and the streets of New York. They both board a ship bound for Cuba, where the lawyer flees to the plantation of a friend, only to discover the friend has died and the plantation is owned by another man. The husband mistakes the plantation owner for the lover and challenges him to a duel with swords. The lawyer tries to break it up, and both he and the husband end up dumped in a pond by the enraged plantation owner. The film was intended to provide transitions between acts of a stage play, and is thus fragmentary and missing plot elements of the overall whole. In its complete 66 minute version, it also includes multiple takes of the same scene. There is a shorter version not edited by Welles that removes the multiple takes, reorders scenes, and adds title cards that were created based on information from the play, not from materials Welles himself created.

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