Johnny Apollo (1940)

 “They’ve never sent a millionaire to jail.”

Robert Cain Jr. (Tyrone Power) is the privileged only son of a stockbroker (Edward Arnold). When his father is imprisoned for embezzlement, Robert is forced to make his own way in the world. Robert meets gangster Mickey Dwyer (Lloyd Nolan), and Mickey’s girl, Lucky (Dorothy Lamour). Abandoning ties with the past, he begins using the name Johnny Apollo. Soon he’s working for Dwyer and headed for jail.

Johnny Apollo is an excellent must-see film noir, and it’s the title character who makes this film an interesting entry in the genre. Unlike many film noir subjects, Johnny is wealthy when the film begins. He soon discovers that his family name–instead of opening doors–carries a great deal of unwanted baggage. He rejects his father and in time he rejects his name, and he learns the hard way that many of the warnings his father told him were all too true.

The Hays Code of censorship was in full swing when Johnny Apollo was made, and according to its dictates, any thoroughly bad character had to come to a bad end. Johnny Apollo is a fascinatingly ambiguous character, and his involvement with the sleazy gangster, Dwyer remains vague. Lloyd Nolan as Dwyer, Dorothy Lamour as Lucky, and Lionel Atwill as the corrupted (and inebriated) lawyer, McLaughlin all provide great supporting roles. Lamour is a lot rougher around the edges and not nearly as glamourous as her Road films with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Johnny Apollo is riveting from beginning to its powerful conclusion, and it’s recommended for all film noir fans. From director Henry Hathaway.

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2 Comments

Filed under Film Noir

2 responses to “Johnny Apollo (1940)

  1. Joan

    Wonderful movie, wonderful Tyrone Power, so highly underrated. The only thing I missed was a love story between Power and Dorothy Lamour, which I believe was cut.

  2. moviesmusic

    Ty power is my favorite actor, and I love this movie! It’s SO good!

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