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USA 1940
Directed by
Henry Hathaway
1940 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Johnny Apollo

Henry Hathaway film is an unusually florid noir crime movie scripted by Philip Dunne and Rowland Brown from a story by Samuel G. Engel and Hal Long. It has all the ingredients of the genre – a gang boss (Lloyd Nolan) and his toughs, a sexy moll (Dorothy Lamour), a drunk of a lawyer (Charley Grapewin), nightclubs, racetracks, cheap rooming houses and so on but spiced up with a rocky father-son relationship and a couple of songs from Lamour.

Tyrone Power plays college boy Robert Cain Jr whose dad, a Wall Street stockbroker (Edward Arnold) is sent to the can for embezzlement. At first rejecting his father for betraying his trust, Robert decides he’s done him wrong and adopting the pseudonym of Johnny Apollo ends up working for gangster Mickey Dwyer (Nolan) and his dipsomaniacal lawyer, Brenner (Charley Grapewin) in an attempt to get his old man the kind of justice only money can buy. Meanwhile however Pop has gone straight and refuses to buy his way out of prison. So Sonny-boy goes off the rails again, ends up in the caboose with Dad, ‘cept that now it’s the son who's on the wrong side of the law.

Although the film doesn’t handle the on-off father-son relationship particularly well, or for that matter the shifting ratio of vice and virtue that each character displays, there is a hotbed of emotions mingled with the genre’s characteristic world-weary wisdom that makes the film quite engaging although it is marred by an incongruously happy ending. Lamour’s version of the Mack Gordon song “This Is The Beginning Of The End” is a treat, her dance number, less so. 

 

 

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