User Reviews (26)

Add a Review

  • Johnny Apollo was Darryl F. Zanuck's attempt probably at Tyrone Power's request to give him some more challenging material. Up to this time Power's films were mostly either costume period dramas or screen comedies. For the first time Ty is in modern dress and in a drama.

    Power fits the title role of Johnny Apollo rather well. The name is a spur of the moment creation for Robert Cain, Jr. who would be called a trust fund baby today. His widower father Edward Arnold's indictment for some white collar securities violations has put Power's rather well ordered and soft universe to a sudden end.

    Power tries to play it straight, but can't make a go of it. Circumstances put him and gangster Lloyd Nolan together. And Power discovers he's got a talent for the rackets. He also attracts the attention of Nolan's girl friend Dorothy Lamour.

    Johnny Apollo is a good film with crackerjack performances by the cast that Henry Hathaway directed. It's probably best compared to MGM's Johnny Eager where Louis B. Mayer was also trying to broaden their studio's heartthrob Robert Taylor's appeal. Johnny Eager is the better film, but no one in Johnny Apollo need be ashamed of anything.

    Best performances in the film are from Nolan as gangster Mickey Dwyer. Nolan was never bad in any film he was ever in. Second best is alcoholic mob attorney Charley Grapewin.

    Dorothy Lamour was brought over from Paramount for this film, playing a part that Alice Faye or Betty Grable might normally have been assigned to. She gets two of her best movie songs to sing, This Is The Beginning Of The End by Mack Gordon and Your Kiss by Frank Loesser and Lionel Newman.

    Johnny Apollo is a fine gangster film from a studio that normally did not do that particular genre. At least at this time.
  • "Johnny Apollo" is a better than average film for 1940, and it's worth watching if for no other reason than a four-minute segment in which sultry Dorothy Lamour, all dark eyes and pouty lips, sings "This Is the Beginning of the End" in a stunning, torchy alto. The song was a 1952 hit for singer Don Cornell, but his version pales beside Lamour's soulful rendition here. Her role as "Lucky" completely trumps her best known role as a foil for Hope & Crosby in the Road pictures. I have a whole new respect for her now as a singer, an artist and a sex symbol.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Darryl F. Zanuck knew the best way to have a hit was to star Tyrone Power, and star him he did, with each Power film grossing more than the previous one. The actor was 25 when he starred in this crime drama. When we first see him, he's in bathing trunks, Zanuck being no fool. At the time "Johnny Apollo" was made, Power was the #2 box office in the world.

    There's not much to this movie - it's fairly typical of its genre, similar to what was produced in the '30s. There are, however, some very good performances, including those of Lloyd Nolan and Edward Arnold. Dorothy Lamour, wearing very exotic makeup, plays a street-wise singer involved with Nolan. Naturally she falls for the handsome, well-educated Power, who falls in with crooks and renames himself Johnny Apollo after his father goes to prison for embezzlement. Lamour has two good numbers, "This is the Beginning of the End," and "Dancin' for Nickels and Dimes." Johnny Apollo isn't one of Power's best roles by any stretch, but he's adorable, and his presence made it an enormous hit. This film spawned a lot of "Johnny" movies (Johnny Eager, Johnny Angel, Johnny Doughboy, etc.). It was re-released in 1949.
  • Sometimes it's best with some films to turn off your brain and just enjoy. You can't think through the plot too much or your head might just explode! This is exactly the sort of film JOHNNY APOLLO is--very entertaining and fun but also with a plot that strains credibility way beyond the breaking point.

    The film begins with Edward Arnold being arrested for stock fraud. Suddenly, his millions are gone and his son (Tyrone Power) must leave school and fend for himself. In a very odd scene between the two before Arnold is sent to prison, Tyrone expresses disappointment in his father and Arnold responds by disowning him! Considering everything that Arnold had done, his sanctimonious response was perplexing. Despite being disowned, Power did still care about his father. However, he was also shocked to see that Dad's reputation ruined his chance to get a job--as everyone held this against him. Then, after changing his name, his only employer fired him because he DIDN'T acknowledge Arnold as his father! Sometimes you just can't win.

    Now, without a job AND wanting to earn enough money to hire a shyster lawyer to file an appeal (as responsible ones won't), Tyrone approaches a drunken lawyer who has a history of playing fast and loose with the truth. In the process, he comes to know a notorious hood (Lloyd Nolan) and is soon hired--and he's now on the fast track to be able to afford the lawyer and to "grease the right palms" to get Arnold sprung from jail. Oddly, however, they never really show or talk about Power doing anything especially illegal!

    Soon after beginning work with Nolan, Power has a reconciliation with Dad when he visits the prison. However, when Arnold learns that his son is working for the underworld, he vows, once again, to have nothing to do with Power. Again, this makes little sense. The first time, he disowns him for not being for accepting of his evil ways and now that Power, too, is a crook the father can't accept him once again! There's a lot more to the plot than this and Power even eventually is imprisoned in the same place as his dad!

    Along for the ride is Dorothy Lamour as a lounge singer with a heart of gold and Charlie Grapewin (in one of his best roles) as the crooked attorney. All in all the acting (especially Nolan and Arnold) is very good and the film has so many plot elements and twists that it is a decent example of early Film Noir. Entertaining and impossibly improbable--plus it really is a bit hard to believe Power as a mobster.
  • Tyrone Power plays privileged young man Bob Cain, Jr., who adopts the nom de guerre Johnny Apollo when he takes to a life of crime. (Incidentally, this movie thus kicks off a string of at least a dozen crime stories of the ‘40s and ‘50s named Johnny Something-Or-Other: Eager, O'Clock, Stool Pigeon....) Power chooses crime to spite his father (Edward Arnold) by emulating his dog-eat-dog ethics, for financial tycoon Arnold has been sent to prison for embezzlement, causing a rift between the generations.

    After Power's initial snit over Dad's letting him down, his attempts to secure him an early parole lead, though `connected' shantoozie Dorothy Lamour, to the underworld. The muscles he developed rowing crew in the Ivy League stand him in good stead as muscle in the mob, for soon he becomes a trusted lieutenant in Lloyd Nolan's crime family (plausibility is not the movie's long suit). But Pop (who has reclaimed his spiritual center in the Big House by welding boilers) disowns his namesake when he learns of his new line of work. In due time, of course, Power ends up behind those bars as well. But that's far from the end of the tale....

    The plot of Johnny Apollo, a major production, takes a few turns too many but manages to keep a just-passable amount of credibility. Though Power, in the lead, stays less than persuasive as a menacing mobster – he's too much of a pretty-boy, and lacks the acting resources to turn himself into a pretty-boy psychopath – the rest of the cast compensates. Predictably, Arnold is good, as is, in the role of a mob mouthpiece with a weakness for Scotch-and-milk, Charlie Grapewin (whose first film credit falls in the last year of the 19th Century!); the two seem to be vying for title of America's sweetheart, old-codger division. Best of all is Lamour, with her sad eyes and fetching pout, who leaves an impression here of a skilled actress, more than she managed in all the Hope-Crosby `Road' pictures put together.

    Direction is by Henry Hathaway, an uneven craftsman who nonetheless rose to the occasion for a handful of movies; this can be counted among his stronger efforts, along with The Dark Corner, Kiss of Death, Fourteen Hours and Niagara. But Johnny Apollo cleaves more closely to the crime melodramas of the previous decade than to the unsentimental and ambiguous style soon to come. But, in it, one can nonetheless sense – particularly in its heavily shaded photography – the birth pangs of film noir, struggling to come into the world.
  • Tyrone Power puts a sympathetic face on crime in his role as a young man who is drawn into the criminal underworld, after his father is imprisoned for embezzlement. While it does boast exciting action sequences, this film is not just your typical gangster movie: It goes to great lengths to show how a person, like Tyrone Power's character, who is completely disillusioned by his experiences following the discovery of his father's dishonesty, might turn to crime. Tyrone Power gives a sincere and heartfelt performance, which gives an added depth to both his role as Johnny Apollo and to the movie itself. Highly recommended to all Tyrone Power fans and those who enjoy excellent crime dramas.
  • wes-connors29 August 2012
    Wall Street millionaire Edward Arnold (as Robert Cain Sr.) is indicted for embezzlement and goes directly to jail. Canoeing in his swim trunks, college student son Tyrone Power (as Robert "Bob" Cain Jr.) is shocked and disappointed. He disowns his dad and drops out of school. Now a convict's son, Mr. Power finds himself unable to find honest work. While waiting to see alcoholic lawyer Charley Grapewin (as Emmett T. Brennan), Power meets attractive Dorothy Lamour (as "Lucky" Dubarry) and paroled gangster Lloyd Nolan (as Mickey "The Mick" Dwyer). Power assumes the name "Johnny Apollo" and drifts into a life of crime...

    This story is too loosely plotted, but not in a way that makes it difficult to follow...

    Helping immensely is that the film is great looking, and directed exceptionally by Henry Hathaway. The black-and-white cinematography is especially noteworthy; photographer Arthur Miller might have received his annual "Academy Award" nomination for this one, if the studio wasn't backing him in "The Blue Bird" (1940). Then Fox' biggest star, Power shows he might have accomplished the same feat at MGM or Warner Bros. Singing and "Dancing for Nickels and Dimes", Ms. Lamour is luscious, especially in a leggy skirt and clinging top. Dependable supporting actors like Mr. Nolan and Mr. Grapewin get juicy parts, too.

    ******* Johnny Apollo (3/15/40) Henry Hathaway ~ Tyrone Power, Dorothy Lamour, Lloyd Nolan, Edward Arnold
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Definitely one of the best gangster movies ever made. As the alcoholic attorney, Charley Grapewin, so memorable as Uncle Henry in "Wizard of Oz," Dorothy Lamour's complete change of pace from the 'Road' pictures to a moll, Edward Arnold, as the father who did wrong and Lloyd Nolan, as a slick gangster, make for an outstanding picture.

    When Arnold, a stockbroker, goes off to prison for embezzlement, his son, an able Tyrone Power, gets involved with gangsters in order to get his father out on parole. It is a terrific plot with those phenomenal performances. Lamour so aptly sings Beginning of the End. How appropriate that was.

    A grand story dealing with high collar crime and thugs in general. Interesting to note the deals that can be worked out. The best deal is to capture this worthy 1940 film.
  • I found this to be a fairly interesting crime story, the emphasis being more on the story and less on the action. What little action there is takes place at the end of the movie.

    Lloyd Nolan plays a low-key gangster and Tyrone Power plays a guy who exhibits good and bad. Dorothy Lamour, Edward Arnold, Charley Grapewin and Lionel Atwill all add to this talented cast. Lamour's tough-talking "dame" character and good cinematography helped this movie be characterized as a very early entry into the film noir genre.

    The problem with the movie was the believability of the story. There were too many unanswered questions in here. Why was this person arrested? How and why could this happen, and that? There are lots of holes in here and sometimes they were so prevalent they broke up the continuity of the story.

    Okay for one curious look but not worth a purchase, although it's still not available on DVD anyway, and few people buy new VHS tapes anymore.
  • While not a classic for the ages, this pre-noir gangster adventure is an excellent example of the studio product churned out in a short time to top a two-film bill at your local theatre in the 1940's, and one of the things that makes it great fun for committed film fans is the use of familiar faces to back up Tyrone Power, playing a rich kid turned bad boy, and Dorothy Lamour, who surprises us by offering a good deal more in the acting department than in the Crosby-Hope Road films, where she functioned primarily as tropical window dressing.

    One fascinating performance is offered by the underused Charlie Grapewin, perhaps known to the average film goer as Uncle Henry in The Wizard of Oz, or as Grandpa in Grapes of Wrath (Grapewins's most sympathetic and memorable role is as burned-out Jeeter Lester in Jonh Ford's misunderstood Tobacco Road). In Johhny Apollo, Grapewin's take on the burned-out lawyer who takes milk with his Scotch and mumbles Shakespeare when to evade confrontation is both funny and endearing and he becomes a pivotal plot element as the plot thickens.

    And thicken it does, with lusty Edward Arnold tossed into jail for embezzlement, and his disowned son, Power, taking up with gangster Lloyd Nolan (always reliable, but here essayed with a nasty undercurrent); much of what Nolan's brutal ganglord does adds a noir element to the film,and a brief scene in a steam bath is right out of Sam Fuller.

    Add thug Marc Lawrence from Broadway, Jonathan Hale, reliably a doctor, Fuzzy Knight as a nervous prisoner, and from the Son of Frankenstein, Lionel Atwill, cold and calculating as the lawyer without ethics--until money is dangled his way. The pace never flags, and, except for a short and absurd tagged-on ending that Zanuck probably demanded on behalf of Power fans, the film builds to a dynamic shoot-out in a prison. Not a great classic, but a perfect example of 20th Century Fox machine making a film worth watching.
  • Embezzler Edward Arnold goes to prison and son Tyrone Power tries to make it on his own honestly. Doesn't work out well. So Tyrone decides Pop was right and that the only way to make it ahead in the world is by being a crook. So he hooks up with gangster Lloyd Nolan and falls for Nolan's girl Dorothy Lamour. When Arnold finds out what his son is up to, he's none too pleased.

    Enjoyable gangster drama with a fine cast. Some have said Power is miscast. I think he's okay for the part. It's not really a gritty movie, despite the plot. Maybe if it had been a tough film noir, I could see the point that Power was wrong for the role. But it's not and he isn't. Edward Arnold is good. I doubt the man ever did a bad acting job in his career. His character is somewhat poorly written and hard to relate to, but it's difficult to dislike him due to Arnold's sympathetic performance. Nice to see Charley Grapewin playing something besides a grizzled old-timer without most of his marbles. Beautiful Dorothy Lamour is always a plus and it's good to see her in a serious role. Lloyd Nolan pretty much steals the movie as the gangster Mickey Dwyer. Lionel Atwill is largely wasted as Arnold's attorney.

    The biggest flaw with the movie is that its plot isn't always consistent. Arnold's character is a crook who first treats his son like crap for not being okay with his crookedness. Then later he treats his son like crap for becoming a criminal like Dad. Still, it's an enjoyable movie. The script's got some nice dialogue. Watch for the scene where Power chases, tackles, and beats Marc Lawrence's head against the ground! Yikes!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Another reviewer used the label 'pre-noir' and I think it is a fitting description. 'Noir' is an elusive term and means different things to different viewers, but "Johnny Apollo" doesn't fill the bill in any case. No aura of menace, no expressionist lighting effects, no ambiguity of purpose in the hero's intent, to name a few qualifications. But those are some of my own prerequisites.

    Having said that, "Johnny Apollo" is a good pre-war crime drama with an attractive cast and an excellent script. The film works on its own terms and the players are so competent you can almost overlook the hastily-contrived ending which strains the viewers credulity. Edward Arnold, Dorothy Lamour and Tyrone Power are first-rate, although Arnold is the workhorse here and Power was a questionable choice for the title role, try as he might, and he did try. But as with Gary Cooper in "City Streets", Power is not a gangster. There are lots of familiar character actors and Dorothy Lamour gets to sing a few songs in her husky voice, and "Beginning Of The End" is a gorgeous song hardly heard at all these days.

    But what was the big rush to end the picture? As it was, there was an awful lot to swallow with multiple plot holes and loose ends. And the light-hearted last scene didn't fit. I still give it a rating of 7, as I just went with it as an enjoyable example of pre-WWII escapist entertainment.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In the early 1940s Hollywood must have been running out of titles about shady gangster types. Among other titles there were "Johnny Allegro," "Johnny Eager," "Johnny O'Clock" and some others I forget. By the 1950s they had pretty much run out of "Johnny"s, no one willing to essay a project called "Johnny Aardvark," and they'd switched to other characters with everyday first names but unique last names. In "Legend of the Lost," John Wayne was Joe January.

    "Johnny Apollo" is apt enough as far as that goes. In 1940, Tyrone Power was one of Twentieth-Century Fox's most handsome leading men. He melts the tarty heart of Dorothy Lamour minutes after their first meeting. She tells him to make a wish, then adds after a pause, "I'll bet that wish was about a woman." (I waited for him to say, "No, a man.") It's often described as a gangster movie but the core theme is the relationship between father (Arnold) and son (Power). Arnold is a wealthy man who is convicted of some kind of shenanigans in the stock market and spends time in jail, where he redeems himself by becoming a model prisoner and enthusiastic welder in the boiler shop.

    Disillusioned by the discovery of his father's illegal activities and denied any responsible job because of the stain on the family name, Power drops the "Robert Cain, Jr." moniker and becomes "Johnny Apollo." He rejects his sadder but wiser father, saying, "I know thee not, old man." Well, not that, exactly.

    He also barges ahead recklessly in the pelf department by becoming mixed up with the notorious racketeer Mickey Dwyer (Nolan). Power becomes one of the brains in Nolan's gang but not a soldier. He's never involved in violence. In fact, there's very little violence in the movie. An ice-pick murder takes place in a steam room. (Kids: An ice pick is this long thin round instrument with a sharp point, used for chipping ice from big blocks in order to make alcoholic drinks called "highballs.") Almost all the action takes place during a jail break at the end, not particularly exciting or well staged, though directed efficiently by Henry Hathaway.

    I found the movie a little flat, although as usual I hoped for a happy ending, which arrived apace. I don't know exactly what it's missing. If there had been more physical movement it might have added some momentum and the movie would have been a fast-paced and unpretentious gangster flick. If the writers had decided to go in a different direction, it might have been an interesting drama about family relations and the heritability of criminal tendencies. You know, nature versus nurture? Instead it seems like a Lamarckian mistake, like Soviet agriculture. It's a little dull, though it's always good to see Edward Arnold playing something other than a money-mad and power-driven blowhard. You ought to see him register "disappointment" when Power tells him off.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Tyrone Power is Johnny Apollo, or is he? His character's name is Robert Cain, Jr. So how does he become Johnny Apollo?

    Edward Arnold, in one of his best performances ever, is Tyrone's father and a stockbroker, who gets in trouble when he embezzles his clients' money. Early on, they have a very heated exchange, and I've never seen Tyrone give such an understated and sincere performance as in that scene and in this whole movie. I was very impressed with Tyrone in this movie and with the movie itself, too. I already knew Edward Arnold was a great character actor before I re-watched this film. (I had not seen this in over 10 years.)

    Dorothy Lamour is good, too, but her songs in this movie were really unnecessary. I hate to say anything negative about sweet Dorothy, but she doesn't have much of a singing voice. Or, maybe those songs just got on my nerves. If it weren't for those songs, I'd give this more than an 8.

    Back to Ty. He tries to get a job, with his real name. No go! No one will hire him. So, he changes it to something else (not Apollo) and in the process gets fired for lying about it. By the by, he meets Lloyd Nolan who is an ex-con who makes him wise to getting ahead.

    Feeling somewhat poetic and/or allegorical in the process, this is probably "the best little crime drama you've never heard of," and has somehow fallen between the cracks and been overshadowed by more classic film noirs. Discover "Johnny Apollo" today.
  • JOHNNY APOLLO was an early attempt by Fox at film noir, but it pales by comparison with other entries during the busy '40s era of crime melodramas. Part of the fault has to be the story itself, which is highly improbable and full of holes, and the casting of handsome and intelligent TYRONE POWER as the kind of guy who would go into a life of crime because his father landed in jail.

    EDWARD ARNOLD is his crooked father, LLOYD NOLAN is a crime boss and DOROTHY LAMOUR is the nightclub singer who switches her affection from Nolan to Power as fast as a showgirl changes her costumes. She gets to warble a couple of torch songs rather nicely and looks attractive for all her close-ups, but she's not exactly right for heavy dramatic roles and Paramount would be using her more effectively in those "Road" pictures with Hope and Crosby.

    The story is pure hokum and nothing can disguise the fact that Power's motivations are too thinly sketched to be believable. In this genre, MGM's Robert Taylor had better luck with his JOHNNY EAGER opposite femme fatale Lana Turner. Tyrone deserved a better story and screenplay than he gets here.
  • 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
  • I will admit to being a huge fan of Tyrone Power. I actually liked this film as an old time gangster movie with all the elements, great B&W filmography, snappy banter between main characters, gangster moll falls for handsome guy and fun dance tunes. It hit all the marks and yes, I thought Tyrone was really good in this part not wooden at all. It's a vintage movie and should be taken that way after all
  • In this smart, sassy, dramatic gangster movie, Edward Arnold stars as a Wall Street big wig. He gets convicted of embezzling, and while he's in jail, his son Tyrone Power tries to get him released. Ty starts out innocent, but when he talks to a grizzled, drunken lawyer, Charley Grapewin, he learns that only hard cash and a backroom deal will get his dad out of prison. He turns to a life of crime and gets involved with a ruthless gangster Lloyd Nolan, who controls nightclub singer Dorothy Lamour. Do you think he'll get into trouble by falling for her?

    If you guessed correctly, that doesn't mean you can skip this movie. Johnny Apollo is a great movie, well acted, well written, and entertaining. Edward is given some choice scenes to show off his acting chops and serves as a great contrast to his son, experience and sorrow to Ty's eagerness and energy. Nearly every scene is tight and clever, and even the dramatic scenes are given wit to carry them through. Charley spills some alcohol on the carpet and tells Ty, "Don't worry, if that carpet could walk, it would stagger." While the line itself is funny, it also shows us Charley's character concisely.

    Rent this movie. It's not the most famous gangster picture ever made, but it deserves to be at the top of its genre. It has all the classic elements, and it's much better than many of the famous ones.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The question to Lucky (Dorothy Lamour), proffered by notorious stock broker Robert Cain, Sr., to her in the prison visiting room, is "Where will you go?" Coming toward the end of this 1940 prison\gangster melodrama JOHNNY APOLLO, this exchange wraps up the first meeting between Lucky and her beloved's dad. Uncle Henry already has been ice-picked in the steam room, Auntie Em is no where to be seen, and Lucky cannot find Samuel Beckett to write her a speech - - so she just sings for her suppers. This is a story of buttermilk and booze, of stock and broads, of Boilermakers and Wildcats. It's more EAST OF EDEN than SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. It's from the Golden Age of Newspapers, and the headlines never screamed "alleged." As for Mom's mink coat, it probably would have taken Lucky a lot further in 1940 than mine can take me today (I Mae put it back on Craig's List for this Christmas Season; please stay tuned).
  • wisewebwoman27 August 2000
    Tyrone is awful in this movie, absolutely without sparkle or charisma. However, Edward Arnold is a delight. His acting and character outshine both Dorothy Lamour who is great and the script which is fairly flat and predictable. Lloyd Nolan is also excellent. What makes it odd is the complete lack of any chemistry between the two leads. Tyrone is totally asexual towards Dorothy and she gives it her sensual best both through song and come-on. I would have liked to have seen Edward and Dorothy make it ! Tyrone redefines wooden in this. It is hard to determine what attracts Dorothy to him. An inflatable doll would have been more animated. Gave it a 7 for Edward.
  • VHenry Hathaway was a very important director. And the four major performers had long, varyingly impressive careers as well: Tyrone Power was handsome and worked hard. Here is not very believable, though. He plays the son of a superb actor: Edward Arnold. Arnold is a financier who does something crooked and as the story opens gets sent to prison. Power rejects him and starts hanging out with a really bad guy, played by Lloyd Nolan -- was another fine actor. And Dorothy Lamour, always likable and pretty,as always, does well in a role darker than the Road pictures for which is most famous Possibly least believable is everyone's calling Power by the name he's taken on after eschewing his father: the eponymous Johnny Apollo. The police call him this. The gangsters do too. Doesn't it seem a rather unlikely surname to anyone? Doesn't anyone do background checks on his character? It's beautifully filmed and but it's fluffy rather than gritty.
  • Despite being billed below Tyrone Power and Dorothy Lamour, the best performer in this film is Hall of Fame character actor Edward Arnold ("Meet John Doe," "Mr Smith Goes to Washington," etc). While his performance here does not exceed his marvelous role in "Doe," he is clearly the best actor on the set, followed by fellow Hall of Famer Lloyd Nolan. This film is an excellent example of the value of solid secondary performers. Pretty boy and girl Power and Lamour may have sold the movie tickets here, but Arnold and Nolan supplied the acting.

    Also of significant note here is Frank Loesser's tune "Dancing for Nickels and Dimes," sang, played, and danced superbly by Lamour, chorus, and orchestra in a night club scene which is also brilliantly shot by film Director Hathaway.
  • Of course the plot strains credibility. Many crime pictures of the period do. But it's a nice, enjoyable movie in any case, well directed and expertly acted by Nolan, Arnold, and Lamour. Tyrone Power is classy and handsome but not very exciting in this role, or believable.

    The best performance is by Lloyd Nolan, who is lively and charming in the role of a crook who does not flinch from murder. Rather than playing the stereotype gun moll with a heart of gold, Dorothy Lamour shows some real depth in her portrayal of Nolan's girlfriend and ultimately proves she can be tough as well. Plus she sings two good songs.
  • The most interesting part of this film is the complicated relationship between the father and the son and how it develops, the father being a widower of an only son without a mother, spoiled as the father is a millionaire and a business man without scruples, which leads him into trouble as he gets dishonoured and jailed for embezzlement, while the son, heretoforth completely honest, is ruined with his father, sees the injustice of his father's treatment and finds his only means to get him exonerated by turning to elements evading the law. Enter Dorothy Lamour who gets him involved, as she is already involved with those alternative elements. It's a great noir, the story is fascinating, the characters never cease to develop, the action is constantly moving forward, and no one can guess what will become of all this confusion of right and wrong, justice and injustice, seeing what is wrong and turning a blind eye to it as it seems right to do wrong, and so on.

    Edward Arnold is the great character who somewhat overshadows Tyrone Power, but the character that most will stick in your mind is the old pettifogger, Charley Grapewin as Judge Brennan, who quotes Shakespeare and cuts the only truly tragic character. The final scene somewhat spoils the drama, it would have been better without it, but up to that point it's one of the major and most intriguing noirs - and one of the first.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Copyright 19 April 1940 by 20th Century-Fox Film Corp. New York opening at the Roxy: 12 April 1940. U.S. release: 19 April 1940. Australian release: 13 June 1940. 8,686 feet. 96 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Bob Cain (Power) leaves college when he learns that his dad (Arnold) has been arrested for embezzlement. Bob vows to work for his release and eventually finds a shyster lawyer, Brennan, (Grapewin), who agrees to take the case.

    OVERVIEW: In the first of his five films with director Henry Hathaway, Power surprised his fans by playing a gangster… Originally titled Dance with the Devil, the film was to have re-teamed Power with Linda Darnell as Lucky DuBarry. But then Zanuck loaned Don Ameche to Paramount in exchange for Dorothy Lamour. Guess who got the better of that deal!

    COMMENT: The film is so beautifully photographed, it's always a pleasure to watch and it's enacted by one of the greatest and largest casts ever assembled for a film of this type. There are so many excellent cameo portrayals, each making such a positive, unified yet unobtrusively realistic contribution. Power gives an ingratiating and convincing performance in the title role while Nolan is charmingly and fascinatingly reptilian and Charley Grapewin is a stand-out as the alcoholic shyster. Lionel Atwill is exactly right for the part of a lawyer with a double standard, whilst Marc Lawrence looks and acts the part of a cheap hood perfectly.

    Also seen to advantage in this line-up of principals is Dorothy Lamour, who even has a couple of right-in-the-mood songs, including a little production number with a wow of a chorus. Pleasingly, she is not always photographed from the most flattering angles, so she looks the part as well as she acts it out.

    However, Edward Arnold is forced to battle valiantly with a role that is not as well-written as the others. It's a key role, but one occasionally has the impression that it's being built up in order to put Arnold on camera for longer than the dramatic potential of his scenes warrants. On TV, the long, boring, extraneous scene in which Power returns home from college and has a long confrontation with his father is usually cut, as there is no essential information in this scene that is not repeated later on. And for all Arnold's mannerisms, Cain is not nearly as interesting a character as Apollo, or Dwyer, or Brennan — or even Lucky.

    Hathaway makes imaginative use of natural locations (the camera panning up to catch Power looking over the gallery at the railway station and the shot through the glass door framing Power and Atwill — a characteristic Hathaway touch — as they walk to the entrance) and drives the film along at a fast clip. There are also some characteristic touches of violence (Power bringing down Lawrence with a flying tackle; Nolan slapping Lamour around — this sequence was too much for the Australian censor; Brennan's murder in the steam-room, the more chillingly effective for not being shown directly on camera; the climactic prison break).

    Hathaway's approach is varied. Occasionally he employs long takes, and has an excellent eye for composition in his establishing long shots — sometimes he holds these for most of the sequence, sometimes he breaks them up with medium close-ups. Usually, he eschews reverse angles (though there are a couple of examples in the film) and he can use mirror shots with dramatic effectiveness. In short, his style is admirably varied and shows his usual deftness and skill.

    In all, this is vintage Henry Hathaway. The best scenes are those filmed on actual locations and the two action scenes (the murder and the prison break).

    AVAILABLE on an excellent 20th Century Fox DVD.
An error has occured. Please try again.