6 December 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
Power goes gritty
Am incredibly fond of crime dramas, both the Phillip Marlowe/Raymond Chandler/film noir-type ones and the more elaborate, more violent ones such as the likes of 'The Godfather' and 'Goodfellas'. The cast also promised a lot, with the most intriguing on paper being an against type Tyrone Power. So they were my two main reasons for seeing 'Johnny Apollo', as well as liking the idea of the story and hearing good things from critics whose opinions are mostly worth trusting.
'Johnny Apollo' turned out to be a well done, fun film with a vast majority of elements executed excellently. If you like any of the actors, good casts and like the type of film it fits under, there is a fairly strong chance of you enjoying 'Johnny Apollo'. It is not a perfect film or one that blows the mind, but there are absolutely no regrets watching it. Quite the contrary and actually thought it was a much needed antidote after a difficult week.
Not everything works. Credibility is strained to the maximum, particularly the final act which also felt a bit too rushed and culminates on a too unrealistically pat and almost sugary note. Arnold's attitude towards his son regarding the crookedness seemed inconsistent and one is not sure as to why.
While the songs are great on their own, don't feel out of place and are beautifully sung by Dorothy Lamour ("They Say" is a hit for good reason, and "This is the Beginning of the End" is especially well sung), they interrupted the flow a bit. Lionel Atwill has far too little to do and struggles to do much with it.
Power however does quite well in an atypical role that required a lot of grit and Power provides that, more than just a handsome face that he was clearly trying to break away from admirably. Actually felt though that the supporting cast were even better, while Dorothy Lamour is an absolute charmer as the female lead the acting honours go to Edward Arnold, as the character who gets my vote as the most interesting, and Lloyd Nolan's unflinching gangster. Enjoyed Charley Grapewin too. The script is taut and has the right amount of suspense and entertainment value.
Henry Hathaway directs with ease and seemed to understand the genre, and the story is suitably hard-boiled and intriguing even if it is not flawlessly executed. The pace is controlled yet generally compelling when the flow is not interrupted. There is some authentic period detail enhanced by the gritty photography and eerie lighting.
In summation, pretty good and recommended though not an essential. 7/10