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Archive for the ‘Eddie Marr’ Category

Johnny Apollo

09 Dec

Johnny Apollo – Directed by Henry Hathaway. Drama. The son of an embezzler becomes a gangster to spring his dad from prison. 94 minutes Black and White 1940.

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Apart from certain story anomalies and inconsistencies, this is an unusual entertainment, since it actually allows full and extreme value of the relationship between a father and a son and also of a senior gangster and his up-and-coming righthand man. Edward Arnold, who is usually annoying because of his monotonous force of voice and movement, relents in his scenes with the son here, and thus their relationship becomes fully emotional and realized. Likewise, the adoration and admiration of Lloyd Nolan for his henchman is carried to its full flower right to the final scene when he is to murder him. Henry Hathaway’s direction of the picture sets up scenes in long horizontal shots like a rifle aiming. Take for instance the scene where this son/henchman first appears, virtually naked, in rowing togs with the victorious crew in the back throwing the coach in the river at exactly the moment when Lionel Atwill reveals to the young man that his father is a crook. Followed by the scene seen from the back of the father in the foreground as he sees his son come home and at a distance walk upstairs without speaking to him. The story, which is not well written on the level of plot, is very well written on the level of scenic content, and Hathaway highjacks it to develop and give importance to nice long scenes of relationships between interesting people, such as those with all the characters with a drunken, shady lawyer played beyond perfection by Charley Grapewin. Everyone is given permission to go for it, from Nolan to Eddie Mars as his henchman, and everyone jumps at the chance. Scenes played behind the mesh of a prison visitors table and behind the rungs of a stairway have a telling impact, because Arthur Miller filmed them. The film staggers to a halt when Dorothy Lamour sings her nightclub numbers, and staggers to a close when we are led to believe that she and the leading actor could possibly end up as a couple, for the lady has no class and the gentleman is class incarnate, Tyrone Power. At age 26 Power, as he had always done, shines right through his incontrovertible beauty to hold the screen and the story together by the generosity, naturalness, and flexibility of his acting. He was clearly the most accomplished male star of his era, and given no credit for being so. But just look at his eyes as he responds to other performers, and look at the absolute rightness of how he plays his scenes and his clarity in doing so. He was the top male star at Fox. He wanted better parts, but he never got them: there were no better parts in those days. This was it.

 

 
 
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