Tyrone Power and Dorothy Lamour in Johnny Apollo (1940)


(director: Henry Hathaway; screenwriters: Philip Dunne/Rowland Brown/based on a story by Samuel G. Engel and Hal Long; cinematographer: Arthur Miller; editor: Robert Bischoff; music: Cyril J. Mockridge; cast: Tyrone Power (Bob Cain aka Johnny Apollo), Dorothy Lamour (Lucky Dubarry), Edward Arnold (Robert ‘Pop’ Cain Sr.), Lloyd Nolan (Mickey Dwyer aka The Mick), Charley Grapewin (Judge Emmett T. Brennan), Lionel Atwill (Jim McLaughlin), Russell Hicks (District Attorney), Marc Lawrence (Bates), Selmar Jackson (Warden); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Darryl F. Zanuck; CBS Fox Video; 1940)

“Moderate crime thriller never rises above being pat and routine, and barely remains credible.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz Darryl F. Zanuck

Moderate crime thriller never rises above being pat and routine, and barely remains credible. Henry Hathaway (“Kiss of Death”/”North to Alaska”/ “Niagara”) directs in a workmanlike but uninvolving manner from a screenplay by Philip Dunne and Rowland Brown, and a story by Samuel G. Engel and Hal Long.

Wealthy Wall Street stockbroker Bob Cain (Edward Arnold) is sentenced to 5 to 10 years for embezzlement and when in prison his spoiled college-grad son Bob Cain Jr. (Tyrone Power) rejects him for betraying his trust. After a year searching for a job and not getting one because of his infamous name, Junior has a change of heart about dad and goes to see shyster lawyer Brenner (Charley Grapewin), an old drunk with a taste for Scotch-and-milk and a love for Shakespeare, about getting his pop parole. Told it would take big cash to arrange such a deal, Junior uses the alias of Johnny Apollo and hooks up with Brenner’s top client, the notorious gangster Mickey Dwyer (Lloyd Nolan), and becomes Dwyer’s frontman. Johnny soon rises far in the underworld rackets, but word of this displeases his now reformed dad who has become a model prisoner. Lucky (Dorothy Lamour), Mickey’s aspiring actress girlfriend who has a heart of gold, falls for heart throb Johnny and helps him when he lands in prison with his dad. In the unwarranted and fairly ridiculous happy ending, Lucky’s helpful actions reconcile father and son after a botched prison break led by the now jailed Dwyer that has old man Cain calling in the prison break and Dwyer shooting both him and his son. The Cains and Lucky will eventually be together after father and son are released from prison, as the moral of the trite story is that the two men learned the hard way the lesson that crime doesn’t pay.