Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Any More (1944)

Article #1005 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-15-2003
Posting Date: 5-13-2004
Directed by Joe May
Featuring Simone Simon, James Ellison, William Terry

A woman spills salt on a train and ends up being plagued by a gremlin who plays tricks with her love life.

You know, at heart the basic premise of this movie isn’t too bad, but it has major problems in execution. However, it’s somewhat difficult to say exactly what the problem is. The performances are all right, and it is fun to see Simone Simon play a comic role after having been only familiar with her work in the Val Lewton films. But the comic rhythm of the movie seems off, it never really focuses itself on the main conflicts, and it’s very difficult to figure out just what the gremlin is trying to do in most of his scenes. The movie also clutters up its storyline with a subplot about the woman occupying an apartment whose previous resident had given out duplicate keys to any number of people, so the first half of the movie consists of a succession of gags about people unexpectedly walking in on her; this gets tiresome very quickly. But I think the worst problem is that everyone is so intent on playing for laughs that they fail to give the characters any sense of central reality; they don’t seem to react consistently to anything, and their every action comes out of left field. It’s not an awful movie; it’s just badly muddled and unfocused. However, it is fun to see a young Robert Mitchum giving one of the better performances in the movie, and those with sharp eyes will want to keep them open for a cameo from Rondo Hatton.

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