It is hard to remember when 'Johnny Nobody' ( 1961 ) was last on television. Like a lot of good British movies, it has been undeservedly forgotten.
Written by Patrick Kirwan, it opens in a sleepy little Irish village where drunken American writer 'Mulcahy' ( William Bendiz ) is flaunting his atheistic views before the shocked locals. A fight breaks out, and even the arrival of 'Father Carey' ( Nigel Patrick ) is unable to calm the situation. Mulcahy challenges The Almighty - should He exist - to strike him dead. He indeed does die - thanks to a shot from a gun fired by a mysterious stranger ( Aldo Ray ) identifying himself as 'Nobody'. He then says: "I was standing there, and a voice said "Destroy that man!"".
The press nickname him 'Johnny Nobody', as his trial begins in Dublin. The main plank of his defence is that God Himself ordered Mulcahy's destruction. The villagers are convinced of his innocence. After all, did not God once put an end to Sodom and Gomorrah? When asked if he believes Johnny to be telling the truth, Carey cannot answer, so a two-day recess is called. Carey takes the opportunity to investigate the source of a number of unsigned letters containing Bible quotes - a small village in the Republic of Ireland. Here he learns the truth about the mysterious 'Johnny Nobody'...
This intriguing, thought-provoking mystery was directed by its star, the late ( and underrated ) Nigel Patrick ( remember him from 1959's 'The League Of Gentlemen'? ). He does not sound remotely Irish, but no matter, the rest of the cast is composed of wonderful performers of the calibre of Joe Lynch, J.G. Devlin, Danny O'Dea, Edd Byrnes, Noel Purcell, Niall McGinnis, and Cyril Cusack. The first part of the story is a bit talky, but when Carey is reported to the police by Miss Floyd ( Yvonne Mitchell ) it changes gear, becoming in effect a clerical 'Thirty-Nine Steps' with Carey as 'Richard Hannay' in a dog collar. Some nice location shooting in Ireland here. Ron Goodwin's harmonica theme is wonderfully evocative.
Things To Look Out For - a cameo from Bernie Winters ( sans Mike ) as a press photographer.
This is pleasant entertainment, and would make a nice addition to Odeon Entertainment's excellent 'Best Of British Collection'.
7 out of 7 found this helpful