Quick Review: Oh, Johnny, How You Can Love (1940)

Director: Charles Lamont

Writers: Arthur T. Horman, Edwin Rutt(story “Road to Romance”)

Stars: , Tom Brown, Peggy Moran, Allen Jenkins

RATING: 3.5 Stars

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Johnny Sandham (Tom Brown), a traveling salesman for a department store, agrees, under duress after his truck forced her roadster of the road, to take “Kelly” Archer (Peggy Moran), a runaway heiress, to New York City, where she intends to elope with her named-but-never-seen fiancée. They are soon caught in the cross-fire car chase involving three bank robbers – From IMDB

If you watch enough films and cartoons from the same era, you will start to see the same gags turn up in all of them, and this film was full of them. I mean, they are classics, that’s why they are used and referenced so often, so they do still work to make the audience laugh, but this film was undeniably made to please audiences of the time, but not intended to do much else.

The plot is pretty basic, if yet still fairly enjoyable. The movies lead me to believe that the US was rife with organised crime and gangsters in the 30s and 40s, and that they all dressed and talked exactly the same. I know the FBI had a big push after the war to clamp down of organised crime, but I doubt it was this prevalent, this indiscreet, and I doubt everyone talked the way these guys do. Or had the annoying habit, as a lot of movie gangsters do, of repeating the end of each others sentences. It’s good for a chuckle the first few times it’s done, but if it goes on for a whole conversation, the chuckles soon die off.

It’s comforting to know that the basic plot of romantic comedies like this haven’t changed in over 80 years. We still get the same boy meets girl and falls in love, until the inevitable third act break up that always happens, until they dramatically make up again at the end. I really respect any romance story that Doesn’t follow this formula, because it’s one that is apparently hard to shake. Kelly really must have had to run to catch the speeding van at the end, in her dress and high heels, and somehow climb in the back, while the van was still moving, in order to profess her love. Now that’s dedication. If we think our stories nowadays are rife with Instalove, we obviously haven’t watched enough old movies where the couple drive off to get married at Niagara Falls after only knowing each other for about three days. Yikes.

Oh Johnny How You Can Love is a film in the Public Domain, so can be found relatively easily to watch for free online, fans of old time romances will probably enjoy, but it’s nothing overly special.

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