This film was the first film produced by William Cagney Productions in March 1943. See more »
At 53 minutes, Hattie McDaniel clears away the uneaten plates of food, but in the next shot Marjorie Lord still has a full plate in front of her. See more »
Tramp in Box Car:
the poem 'The Open Road of Freedom' - There's a road that passes cities and it leaves them on the side. It goes across the mountains and it takes them in its stride. You can meet with friends along that road, but travel all alone. It's the Open Road of Freedom, where you can call your soul, your own. - composed by the character Tom Richards who is played by James Cagney, but recited to him by the box-car tramp.
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Flawed, but quaint, with a certain sentimental charm.
This is a movie that not everyone will love or even like. One must remember it's a sentimental look at the turn of the century, 1906 the movie states, by filmmakers in 1943. So this is a review about a quaint film made 73 years ago, which was looking back nostalgically 37 years. Not to belabor the point, but it would like a movie today (2016) reliving a time 37 years ago, which would be 1979 and being reviewed 73 years from now in 2089. So you can see that when you consider this film in that way, all bets and our judgment are probably a little off. In that light I feel the flick holds up very well. Sure many of the movie's main stars are very one dimensional. Only Cagney and Edward McNamara made me feel that there was much depth to their characters. Many movie watchers of today will find it a little slow and without a lot of action. Some will say it's way too saccharine. The production values aren't the best and late in the movie, the transitions between scenes appears a bit jerky.
Remarkably, somehow this movie works. Through all it's faults it shines like a diamond in the rough. You feel the quaintness of 1906, whether it was like that or not, you FEEL it was. I really felt I was looking through a window to the past. In this movie you really like James Cagney. He is not the champion of the beautiful young girl, but of the aged older lady who is paying the price to fight the good fight. He does it with dash and style. "Johnny Come Lately" made me smile a lot and even cry a little for the good ole days, theirs and mine. In the end what more do you want from 73 year old movie?
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