John Jones' daughter is rehearsing the Gettysburg Address in preparation for a school elocution when he is called away by an air raid alarm. He sits alone in the evening and contemplates ... See full summary »
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JOHNNY COME LATELY is an example of an underrated work that makes a good, atypical film. The Jimmy Cagney that we think of is the anti-hero of THE PUBLIC ENEMY or WHITE HEAT, who we fear but feel sorry for. He also is recalled for his exciting performances in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY and 13 RUE MADELEINE. He was a human dynamo. Watch how he effortlessly goes into the dance and song in FOOTLIGHT PARADE. But here he is a reporter who is tramping around the country (reading Pickwick Papers) who gets into trouble in a corrupt town, but is helped by the owner of a newspaper (Grace George, an old friend of Cagney's, in her only movie role). Together they take on the local machine, with assistance from George Cleveland and Marjorie Main among others. That Edward McNamara finally admits defeat is actually due to him not being the real villain in the film (his police chief, an ex-convict, is the real villain). Cagney does have one or two obligatory fight sequences, but he displays a gentleness, especially when dealing with Ms George, that is very unusual and sweet.
JOHNNY COME LATELY was a novel by Louis Bromfeld. A few years ago Public Television did an "American Masters" episode on Bromfeld, who was (at one time in the early 1930s) considered the equal to Hemingway and Faulkner and Fitzgerald as a novelist. He is best recalled today for the novel, THE RAINS CAME, made into a classic early starring film for Tyrone Power and Myrna Loy. But his best written novel is supposed to be THE FARM, wherein he discussed the day to day running of a farm, and it's importance to the country. Ironically it was the subject of farms and agriculture that ended his brilliant writing career - he spent his savings trying to make a model farm for helping American farmers learn the latest techniques in agriculture. In the end he had to lose his farm as well (it was a brilliant idea, but he couldn't afford to keep it up). Bromfeld's writing can be sampled in JOHNNY COME LATELY, where he concentrates well on the characters in the story. Look at the scene where Cagney goes to a political power who likes ketchup in everything - Cagney plays up to this weakness, with odd but successful results.
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