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"Johnny One-Eye" - Noir Crime Drama
released on May 5, 1950
The Actors: Pat O'Brien (Martin Martin), Wayne Morris (Dane Cory ), Dolores Moran (Lily White), Gayle Reed (Elsie White), Donald Woods (Vet), Barton Hepburn (Cory's henchman),Raymond Largay (Lawbooks), Lawrence Cregar (Ambrose), Forrest Taylor (man on street who quotes Lord Byron), Lester Allen (designer/choreographer), Jimmy Little (Captain of the Police), Jack Overman (Lippy), Lyle Talbot (Official from the District Attorney's office), Harry Bronson (cute Freddy), James Anderson (apartment house switchboard operator), Davison Clark (stage doorman), John Doucette (Police Detective), Milton Kibbee (the landlord), Gail Langford (bit part), Steve Pendleton (Police Detective), Suzanne Ridgeway (chorus girl)
The Night Santa Claus Died
This movie is a Damon Runyon big city tale about gangsters, the women they love, and the coppers that pursue them . . . and a little girl and her dog. Martin and Cory are a couple of hoods that have a third person, the Dutchman, helping them with a racket. The Dutchman was going to keep all of their money instead of splitting with Martin and Cory, but they find him on a Hudson River ferry, and Cory kills him, and they take their money. Fast forward a few years and we discover that Martin is now an influential legitimate businessman, and Cory is a bigger gangster, with a burlesque dancer girlfriend. Cory is financing a Broadway play for his girlfriend Lily to lift her from the burlesque into the legitimate theater.
As Martin (Pat O'Brien) is preparing to host some important businessmen for dinner in his penthouse apartment, some police detectives arrive to question and possibly arrest Martin. The doorman calls him and warns him that the police are on the way up, and Martin quickly escapes via the laundry chute. Later he meets 'Lawbooks,' his attorney in the park, and is informed that the prosecutor is putting pressure on Cory and his rackets, so Cory has arranged for immunity by offering Martin to them as the killer of the Dutchman several years earlier. Angered at the attempted frame, Martin finds Cory at the Broadway Theater where they are rehearsing for Lily's new show. When Cory hears that Martin is there to talk to him, he tells his henchman to go out to the back alley and go around and cover him, just in case Martin gets violent. After Martin and Cory exchange heated words on the sidewalk in front of the theater, Cory's henchman shoots Martin in the shoulder, and Martin turns and kills the henchman, then staggers away.
Wounded and no where to go, Martin bribes the stage doorman at the theater into telling him where Lily lives, and Martin heads to Greenwich Village hoping that he will find Cory when he visits Lily. Next to Lily's apartment building is an abandoned old home that is scheduled to be torn down to make way for a new, ultra-modern apartment building. Martin finds refuge in the deserted building as he suffers from his shoulder wound. Meanwile, inside Lily's apartment, Cory is displaying his dislike of Lily's young daughter Elsie and her little dog, Skipper. When the dog barks at Cory's heel, Cory grabs the dog and angrily tosses it out the door as Lily's young daughter watches and cries quietly from her bedroom door. The dog makes its way to the street, and seeing Martin enter the deserted building, the little dog follows him into the building, and they become fast friends. The dog now has a bum right eye, so Martin names him "Johnny, Johnny One-Eye."
Lily's little girl finds her dog and Martin the next day in the abandoned building, and she is happy that there is someone to care for her dog, as she cannot take her dog back home, because of Cory. Martin tells her that he is 'Santa Clause', and he came down from the North Pole just to care for the little dog. Elsie believes him, and promises to keep his presence in the old house a secret. The next day Martin walks down the street with his new buddy 'Johnny One-Eye' and he finds a pet store with a doctor, who tells him that the dog cannot be cured, and should be put to sleep. Martin gets offended at this and leaves with the little dog, but the doctor stops them, and says that he knows the look of a man who's been shot, because of his experience in the war, and Martin has that look. The doctor removes the bullet from Martin's shoulder, and Martin goes back on the hunt for Cory.
The classic film noir gangster finalé comes when Martin learns that the little girl knows Cory, and that Cory will be visiting soon. Then things get really messed up as the little girl learns that Martin is really a criminal, and Cory finds out that Martin is hiding in the abandoned building next door. There is a suspenseful meeting of Cory, Lily, Elsie, Johnny One-Eye, the police, and soft-hearted gangster Martin . . . Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
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2014 was an exciting year for me, and I want to say thank you to every visitor that enjoys these old movies as much as I do. Four years ago I found myself with the knowledge to create nice web pages, along with a stack of old public domain movies that I owned and enjoyed. I decided to share them with the world . . . I thought that the 150 or so movies that I had collected were all the public domain movies in existence, but soon discovered more, and with good research and the help of the internet I am still discovering lost classics to share. Thanks to the amazing people at the Dream Network I am able to share more than 2,000 almost forgotten classics, with many more sitting on my shelf waiting their turn to be added to this web site. In 2014 the number of friends visiting the site and enjoying the movies tripled, and I am very grateful. One day in 2014 I got an e-mail note from Sir Robert Rietty, a British actor and voice-over specialist who wanted to thank me for sharing movies featuring himself and his famous acting teacher father Victor Rietti. We became e-mail friends, and I was able to find even more of his movies that were in public domain and share them with him and you, and Sir Robert was gracious enough to share behind-the-scenes stories about some of his experiences. I have also been honored to meet and become friends with Canadian director Rex Bromfield, a longtime friend of Richard Burton. Rex shared two experiences with Burton that have never been made public before, and I shared them with you in my reviews of the 1973 Welsh productions starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Divorce His and the sequel Divorce Hers. I was also fortunate in discovering Adrian, a film collector in England, and I have been able to purchase many old British films that I, and indeed most folk outside Britain have never seen or heard of. I cannot describe with words how much joy I have enjoyed building this web site and sharing the movies that I love with the rest of the world. Thank you all for sharing in my journey and exploring the stories produced during the first years of motion picture history. The past four years have been an incredible journey, but I suspect that the best is yet ahead of us, so stick around and visit often . . . And don't be shy about sending me a note, I cherish every one and respond to all of them.
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