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Johnny Come Lately (1943, James Cagney, Grace George)

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James Cagney stars in Oscar-winning small town drama Johnny Come Lately (which he also produced with his brother William) as an ex-reporter turned drifter who arrives in a town where corruption is rife. Jailed for vagrancy, on release he meets up with Vinnie McLeod (Grace George), editor of the local paper and one of the few honest citizens in town.

Together, they set about exposing the corruption, thanks to the revelations of dowager Mary McGovern (Majorie Main), a woman with a murky past but an honest heart. Cagney insisted on casting familiar character actors in the main roles (George, Margaret Hamiton and Hattie McDaniel are just a few) and was rewarded with outstanding performances in an undeservedly ignored film.

Legendary critic James Agee said of the movie… ‘The film does show a fatal commercial uneasiness and, I half suspect, radical loss or atrophy of cinematic judgment. But . . . there is a general ambience of hope and pleasure about the production which, regrettably, loses its glow.’

production details
USA / Warner / 97 minutes / 1943

Writer: John Van Druten
Novel: McLeod’s Folly by Louis Bromfield
Director: William K. Howard
Director of Photography: Theodor Sparkuhl
Composer: Leigh Harline

cast
James Cagney as Tom Richards
Grace George as Vinnie McLeod
Marjorie Main as ‘Gashouse’ Mary
Marjorie Lord as Jane
Hattie McDaniel as Aida
Edward McNamara as W.M. Dougherty
William Henry as Pete Dougherty
Robert Barrat as Bill Swain
George Cleveland as Willie Ferguson
Margaret Hamilton as Myrtle Ferguso
Norman Willis as Dudley Hirsh
Lucien Littlefield as Blaker

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