Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


WHEN JOHNNY COMES MARCHING HOME (1942). Director: Charles Lamont.

War hero Johnny Kovacs (Alan Jones) is feted when he comes home on leave, but most of his musician buddies only know him as Johnny O'Rourke. Therefore when police come searching for him so he can fulfill some obligations, his pals assume he's a deserter from the army. Two women fall instantly in love with Johnny -- Joyce (Jane Frazee) and Marilyn (Gloria Jean) -- while Dusty (Peggy Ryan) can't even score with Frankie (Donald O'Connor). This has virtually no plot to speak of, but there are some well-delivered songs, such as the duets "This is It," "Romance," and "You and the Night and the Music." Jones has a very nice voice, but even in his day his style was a little too precious, and nowadays he seems just a bit hokey. Olin Howlin has a larger role than usual as a liaison, and a black dance group called the Four Step Brothers are full of verve. O'Connor is as good and as likable as ever, although his numbers with the frankly unfunny Ryan are nothing to sing about. Ryan made a better impression in Chip Off the Old Block, which starred O'Connor. Frazee was in Buck Privates and Gloria Jean in Copacabana.

Verdict: By the numbers -- but at least the numbers are good. **1/2.

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