JOHNNY ALLEGRO 1949

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A cute start to this George Raft starrer.We see a shop window with the name “John Allegro,Florist” on it. Inside the shop,George Raft,as Allegro is finishing off a floral arrangement. His assistant Addie (Gloria Henry) admires the flowers and Johnny says,”I’ve done better but it’ll do!”

imageThe first shot of Nina Foch (as Glenda) has her coming up to Johnny in the foyer (his shop is a concession in an hotel). She kisses him and whispers,”Please help me. Pretend you know me!” She’s being followed but wont tell him what’s going on.

There’s a nice touch by director Ted Tetzlaff to show a passage of time. Johnny has been in Glenda’s room when  she is out. He finds some photos of her and takes one away with him.The next shot is the photo,framed and signed to him. Addie indicates she’s been taking orchids up to Glenda’s room for weeks.

Treasury agent Schultz (Will Geer) comes to see Johnny to enlist his help. It turns out Johnny had escaped from Sing Sing . (I like how Schultz describes Johnny’s early life – Johnny had a job in a florist and was delivering flowers to gangsters and ended up joining them!)

George Macready is Morgan Vallin, Glenda’s husband (though she hasn’t told Johnny she’s married).Johnny joins Glenda on Vallin’s island off Florida. Macready,very much in Gilda mode,has a large stash of counterfeit money which he distributes at race tracks. Vallin prefers a bow and arrow to guns – “..a weapon for a man of culture!” Johnny’s response is “In a tough spot,gimme a trigger instead of a piece of string.”

As in Gilda, Vallin throws Glenda and Johnny together and of course there’s a scene on the dance floor where Raft shows his smooth moves.

Vallin is also a big game hunter and there’s a touch of The Most Dangerous Game as he goes after Johnny on the island – “I like this.It’s a new experience, hunting man.”

This is an ok story but,as much as I like George Raft,he just seemed too old for all the action.Nina Foch, George Macready and Will Geer provided good support.

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(Just struck me, there are a lot of classic period films with ‘Johnny’ in the title – JOHNNY BELINDA, JOHNNY O’CLOCK,JOHNNY CONCHO, JOHNNY EAGER, JOHNNY ANGEL ,JOHNNY GUITAR,JOHNNY STOOL PIDGEON,JOHNNY APOLLO. To name a few)

5 responses »

  1. This is a film I haven’t seen for a very long time now. I remember it quite well though, which suggests it’s not a bad one. There is indeed a feeling of it being a bit of a mash-up of ideas pinched from GILDA and THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME.

    Personally, I’ve never been a fan of George Raft’s acting, feeling he’s weakened more films than he’s strengthened. He seemed to be obsessed with creating a screen image that was heroic and nothing else would do. Your comment about his being a little too old for the role here ties into that too.

    Even so, I’d still like to see the film again.

  2. For me the film is raised several notches by the mere
    casting of George Macready as the bad guy,what a sinister
    screen persona he had.
    A pretty slick potboiler,I thought, and superior to a lot of things
    Raft was doing at the time.
    I understand that Mr Macready ran an art gallery with his friend
    Vincent Price but they had to give this up when their film roles
    became more frequent.Just imagine walking into an art gallery and
    being greeted by those two!

  3. Oh boy, Macready and Price running a shop!
    Maybe Raft knew his own limitations. He had a range that he was comfortable with and never stepped outside it, unlike Bogart .
    I’d like to see Raft’s Johnny Angel again.

  4. Enjoyed your post, Vienna – this sounds worth seeing even if Raft is too old for the part. I think you are on to something with those ‘Johnny’ titles – another one is ‘Johnny Come Lately’ with Cagney as a hobo turned newspaper reporter, though I think it is probably one of his worst films.

  5. I remember Johnny Come Lately. It had a good cast including Marjorie Main,Hattie McDaniel. It was one of Cagney’s independently produced films with his brother.
    I quite liked it.

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