Johnny O’Clock and Johnny Allegro

A “Johnny on the Spot” double feature, one good and one not so good.

First, O’Clock.

Dick Powell plays a swanky gangster whose convoluted love life, including his boss’ slutty wife, a heartbroken hatcheck girl and his jealous live-in “man,” (honest, that’s what he calls the surly twink he lives with) gets him mixed up in a murder.

Despite my personal issues with Powell’s upper lip, or lack thereof, he’s always aces and highly underrated. This movie is no exception. And Evelyn Keyes, who plays the sister of the murdered girl, is one of the grand dames of Film Noir.

We had strayed a ways with the last few double features, but this film brought us right back to Noir City with its snappy dialog, sharp suits and fallen women. Maybe I liked it more for hitting all my personal sweet spots than for its own objective merit, but you should check it out and see for yourself.

On the other hand, there’s Allegro.

I (probably unfairly) refer to George Raft as the Shatner of Noir. I really want to like him, seeing as we grew up in the same neighborhood and all, but he’s just so dull and wooden and that girdle isn’t fooling anyone. Sexy Nina Foch makes up for him to some degree, as does the suave and sinister George MacReady, but they are all battling against a laughably preposterous script that doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Raft plays the title character, a gangster turned florist who tries to go straight but gets sucked back into the underworld by a hot dish in trouble, played by Foch. Off to a nice, noirish start, only on the way down he gets tapped by cops who use his criminal record to strong-arm him into working undercover for them. They set up this elaborate fake cop-shooting so that Foch will be forced to take Raft with  her where ever she’s going. Which turns out to be a private tropical island owned by her counterfeiting and bow-hunting husband (MacReady.) There’s also some kind of lame-brained international angle with shifty Russians and a really ham-handed riff on The Most Dangerous Game.

This film is silly as hell, but had a few entertaining moments. I can’t recommend it, but I’m glad I saw it.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.