Johnny Allegro (1949)

Johnny Allegro (1949)
Run Time: 81 min. | b/w

Director:  Ted Tetzlaff

Stars: George Raft, Nina Foch, George Macready, Will Geer

Genres: Crime | Drama | Film-noir

Storyline
Raft is once again the shady hoodlum who squares himself with the cops by acting as an undercover agent to expose an international smuggling outfit. Plenty of two-fisted action.

4 responses to “Johnny Allegro (1949)”

  1. IMDBReviewer says:

    A decade before TV brought us Johnny Staccato, Columbia Pictures presented Johnny Allegro, a florist with a concession in a fancy hotel who gets wrapped up in a police manhunt.

    We start with what appears to be a typical Hitchcock setup: an innocent man gets drawn into peril thanks to a leggy blonde. But is Allegro truly as innocent as he appears? Not in the eyes of "Schultzy" the cop (played convincingly by Will Geer, almost unrecognizable to those of us who only remember him as "Grandpa Walton").

    So now we have a new plot developing: a crook infiltrating another crook's operation in order to clear his name with the police. He ends up in a swanky manor on a secluded Florida island, trying to track down some counterfeit money that could ruin the US economy.

    And finally, we end up with a finale that steals a page or two from "The Most Dangerous Game," as Raft is hunted across the island by a foe with a bow.

    In my opinion, Raft was too old for this role, and not terribly convincing as an action figure. The plot seems like a jigsaw puzzle made from three different boxes that don't quite match, and there's nothing outstanding about the visual aspect of the picture. It's got some good moments (mostly thanks to Geer and Foch) but overall it's not satisfying. More like Johnny Andante, not quite up to speed.

  2. IMDBReviewer says:

    George Raft made a conscious decision to play ethical central characters–tough on his pocketbook, perhaps, but doing what was necessary. He turned down parts that others made successful in the popular sense; but "Johnny Allegro" was worth making, as "High Sierra" was not, not as "fiction". And this was a man who had scene first hand the negative influence gangsters could have on lives. In this case, Raft agreed to play a character well within his somewhat-limited range. Johnny Allegro is no saint, no genius. But he is a man willing to do the right thing to square himself with the law, and help the police investigate an "untouchable", a Mr. Big brilliant played by George Macready. Ted Tetzlaff directed this interesting mission film, with his usual skill, from a script by Karen de Wolf, Gene Endore and James Edward Grant. The idea is that Macready smuggles men to a remote Caribbean island, men who need to escape the law, and they then serve his criminal organization loyally because they must. Johnny’s police pals set him up as a man on the lam for having killed a policeman to make his escape, all faked; then he is able to join another escapee and find his way to the island through the villain’s usual channels. Then he falls in love with someone Macready, the usual Renaissance man and intellectual villainized in US films–holds as his prize possession–lovely Nina Foch, his wife. Investigating the island to which he has been spirited, he finds a way to call in the cops and cover his actions. But then he and Foch must escape Macready and his bow and arrow–with which he kills the disloyal in his empire…The film is attractive in B/W but not stylish; yet the cast is above average. other players include Will Geer as Raft’s boss who believes in him,, Thomas Browne Henry as his boss who does not, Gloria Henry, Ivan Triesault, Harry Antrim, Bill Phillips, and many others. George Duning wrote the fine music and Frank Tuttle did the elaborate set decorations. The other element in the film is the noir mission sense of being beyond help, and the growing romance between Raft and the brilliant Nina Foch, who for once is given a sympathetic part in a film. This is a well- paced, interesting and well-mounted "B" effort; and one that bears repeated watching for its mystery, its situation-derived characters and the under-theme of loyalty which is interestingly examined. Above average.

     

  3. tfsadmin says:

    Good crime/gangster film which, as Leonard Maltin notes, has similar elements to ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ throughout much of its second half.

    George Raft plays the title character, a reformed hoodlum, who now runs a florist shop (!!) in a hotel. He encounters a mysterious blonde, of the femme fatale variety, and winds up involved in a counterfeiting operation. Most of the action then takes place on an island off Florida where the womens husband is a tall, blonde master-criminal who enjoys hunting with a bow and arrow.

    Everything here is above average and the film comes together in all areas very well. The interplay between Allegro and the evil, sophisticated Morgan Vallin, is similar to many a James Bond film with mutual distrust and respect between the two antagonists.

    With good performances all round, a brisk plot and the inventiveness of the storyline, ‘Johnny Allegro’ is well worth watching for B-movie fans. The director was better known as a cinematographer, and his obvious skills are shown to good effect.

  4. tfsadmin says:

    This is an interesting film for its supporting cast. If you see the film, look for Gloria Henry (Dennis' mom from the TV show "Dennis the Menace") and Will Geer. You don't see a young Will Geer in many films, as he was blacklisted not too long after he made this film due to his very liberal politics (even by Hollywood standards). As for Henry, it's tough to recognize her at first, as she is very fast-talking and a bit fresh–and quite cute. She just doesn't look or act much like Dennis' mom! The film stars George Raft during his 'wooden phase'. After he was no longer a tough-guy with Warner Brothers (in the 30s and early 40s), he settled into a long string of much more sedate roles–playing heroic types with very little energy in his performances. It was like the tough persona was in slow-motion in these later films–not exactly unpleasant but with very little of the bravura and intensity of his earlier roles…and a bit wooden. You may not have noticed this, but I've seen enough of his films to see there is a clear difference–and many of the films were made by second-tier studios such as Columbia as well as some UK productions. I noticed another reviewer said Raft is "a bit bland at times" and this is clearly the case in his post-war films–they just lack zip!

    This film finds the ex-con Johnny Allegro (Raft) getting tangled up in a killing, as he appears to kill a cop. However, after he makes his escape with the dame (Nina Foch), you learn that the shooting was a ruse–and Apollo's gun loaded with blanks as he's working with Federal agents! Why? Because they wanted someone to infiltrate the criminal empire run by a creepy and probably sexually impotent man (George Macready). Can Apollo get to in good with the gang? Will he be killed by the gang? Can he, somehow, still get the girl? Will the audience by a 54 year-old man as an action hero?

    Overall, this is a pleasant little noir film from Columbia. While it's not great film noir and Raft has definitely done better stuff, it's a good but rather slow-paced gangster film. With a bit more energy and an actor who didn't appear a bit old for the role, it might have been a bit better. But as for Macready, it's another excellent menacing performance–as no one could do BAD quite like him!

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