Review: ‘Johnny Come Lately’

James Cagney's first independent production via brother Bill Cagney's unit, comes through with a topnotch performance in the story of the crack tramp newspaperman, afflicted with a wanderlust complex, who temporarily halts in his tracks to help an old lady continue publication of her newspaper and battle the crooked politico-financial forces in her town.

James Cagney’s first independent production via brother Bill Cagney’s unit, comes through with a topnotch performance in the story of the crack tramp newspaperman, afflicted with a wanderlust complex, who temporarily halts in his tracks to help an old lady continue publication of her newspaper and battle the crooked politico-financial forces in her town.

Whatever elements of suspense, action and motivation the Louis Bromfield book, McLeod’s Folly, may have held to attract the Cagney production staff, the screen treatment which has emerged is, for the most part, familiar melodrama. Cagney’s performance, however, combined with William K. Howard’s direction, offsets scripting flaws.

Action revolves mainly about Cagney’s journalistic attacks on the village tycoon (Ed McNamara) after the lady publisher (Grace George) saves him from a stretch in the hoosegow on vagrancy charges.

Johnny Come Lately

Production

United Artists. Director William K. Howard; Producer William Cagney; Screenplay John Van Druten; Camera Theodore Sparkuhl; Editor George Arthur; Music Leigh Harline

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1943. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

James Cagney Grace George Marjorie Main Hattie McDaniel Ed McNamara

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