18 user 7 critic

Johnny Come Lately (1943)

Approved | | Drama | 3 September 1943 (USA)
Newspaper man wanders about and helps older woman save her paper.


William K. Howard


John Van Druten (screenplay), Louis Bromfield (novel)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... Tom Richards
Grace George ... Vinnie McLeod
Marjorie Main ... 'Gashouse' Mary
Marjorie Lord ... Jane
Hattie McDaniel ... Aida
Edward McNamara Edward McNamara ... W.M. Dougherty
William Henry ... Pete Dougherty (as Bill Henry)
Robert Barrat ... Bill Swain
George Cleveland ... Willie Ferguson
Margaret Hamilton ... Myrtle Ferguson
Norman Willis ... Dudley Hirsh
Lucien Littlefield ... Blaker
Edwin Stanley ... Winterbottom
Irving Bacon ... Chief of Police
Tom Dugan ... First Cop


Newspaper man wanders about and helps older woman save her paper.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

newspaper | based on novel | See All (2) »


A Story of a Wanderer Who Stops His Travels Long Enough to Help A Kindly Old Woman in Distress (Print Ad-Philadelphia Inquirer, ((Philadelphia, Penna.)) 26 March 1944)




Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film was the first film produced by William Cagney Productions in March 1943. See more »


At just after 1:20 into the film, when 'Gashouse' Mary is speaking to W.M. Dougherty, with his back toward camera, he pulls his handkerchief out of his suit coat front pocket. A moment later, in the face on shot of him, he does it again. See more »


Court Bailiff / Mr. Robbins: [reading case docket] Vagrancy, wife beating...
Vinnie McLeod: [interjecting] That's a newfangled sort of crime. In my day men didn't beat their wives. The wives had pistols.
See more »

User Reviews

Even the press can't stop the irrepressible Jimmy Cagney.
5 June 2009 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

Tom Richards is an ex newspaper reporter who decided to quit the rat race and live life on the road in a vagabond existence. Breezing into town one day with only two dollars and a copy of his beloved Pickwick Papers to his name, Tom happens upon dear old newspaper owner Vinnie McLeod. Miss McLeod has a soft spot for tramps and urges Tom to get himself off the streets before he is arrested, but although he promises he will, he is soon rounded up and hauled before the court. Where Vinnie, upon learning of his reporting experience puts up the bond so Tom can keep out of jail and work for her at the Shield & Banner paper. It's here that Tom learns of corruption within the town and promptly sets about using the press medium to out the dirt and free the town of its bad elements.

When one hears the name James Cagney, it immediately conjures up images of gangsters and Yankee Doodle Dandy like ebullience. Yet as big a star as he was, Cagney still has films in his cannon that are not only unseen and forgotten, but also that showcase the other side of his acting coin. One such film is Johnny Come Lately. Adapted from the novel "McLeod's Folly" by the highly thought of Louis Bromfield (Winner of 1927 Pulitzer Prize for his novel, Early Autumn) the film sees Cagney relying on his reined in ability instead of blunderbuss histrionics. There are of course a couple of sequences where his character is called on to pack a punch {naturally when the piece is about corruption and less than stellar townsfolk} but by and large it's a sweet and affecting turn that really rewards those who have invested time with it.

It's not just about Jimmy tho. Grace George as Vinne is the films emotional axis, her interplay with Cagney has a tenderness that really gives the story some added weight. Boosting proceedings is the always delightful Hattie McDaniel, whilst Wizard Of Oz fans will no doubt be chuckling away at Margaret Hamilton's performance here. Which when one knows Cagney calls her "the dragon lady next door", well one can guess what Margaret is doing with the character. But standing out amongst the strong female cast is Marjorie Main as Gashouse Mary McGovern, a delightful turn that harks to a sort of Mae West homage. When she slinkily turns to Tom and says "if only I was thirty years younger" you just know she would have eaten him for breakfast! The score from Leigh Harline is easy on the ears, and William K. Howard's direction is smooth and at one with the pace of the story. This really is one that needs to be rediscovered by more classic cinema fans, not only for catching Cagney acting against type, but also because it has a feel good factor that could brighten the day of many. 8/10

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Release Date:

3 September 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Johnny Come Lately See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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