Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore
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rench actress Simone Simon did not have very good luck when she came to the U.S. under contract to 20th Century Fox in 1935. Cast in forgettable roles in forgettable films, she failed to catch fire in America, in spite of a publicity campaign that promoted her as "Europe's Sweetheart." In the late 1930s Simon returned to France, where she had one of her best roles in Jean Renoir's La Bete Humaine (1938), but when World War II broke out, she decided to try Hollywood again. This time she fared better, scoring her biggest popular success in Cat People (1942).
Simon had three American films released in 1944: the sequel The Curse of the Cat People, the historical drama Mademoiselle Fifi, and a screwball comedy, Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore. The latter film was produced by the independent King Brothers Productions, but released by the poverty-row Monogram Pictures. In spite of the low-budget production values, Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore is a likeable, lightweight comedy. Simon plays Kathie, a French-Canadian who moves to Washington, D.C. for wartime work, but doesn't have a place to live. Kathie meets Johnny (William Terry), a marine who's about to report for duty, and the two fall in love. She convinces him to sublet his apartment to her, but after Johnny leaves, Kathie finds out he's handed out keys to his apartment to all of his friends, including Mike (James Ellison), with whom she also becomes romantically involved. Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore didn't do much for Simon's career, but it led to better things for Robert Mitchum, then just starting his career; he shows up late in the film as one of the keyholders.
Mitchum had only begun working in films about a year earlier, but he already had more than 20 films under his belt, mostly low-budget Hopalong Cassidy westerns playing bad guys, or gung-ho war movies playing soldiers. He also showed up in small parts in A-pictures such as MGM's The Human Comedy (1943). 1944 turned out to be a very busy year for Mitchum, who appeared in six films. The King brothers, impressed with his work in Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore, gave him a leading role in the thriller When Strangers Marry. Around the same time, one of his minor roles in a major movie, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, got him some attention, and he was offered a contract at RKO. By the time Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo went into general release in early 1945, Mitchum's career had taken off. By 1948, Mitchum was a big star, and Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore was re-released under the title And So They Were Married, with Mitchum receiving top billing, although he had been billed eighth when the film was first released.
Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore was the final film for Viennese-born director Joe May, one of the pioneers of German cinema. A former operetta director, May began directing films in 1911, and founded his own studio in 1914. He gave director Fritz Lang his start in film, hiring Lang as a screenwriter in 1917. May's own career as a director included his masterpiece Asphalt (1929), the last of the great German Expressionist films. Like many Jews, May and his actress wife Mia left Germany in 1933, emigrating to the United States when the Nazis came to power. But after a strong start, May's American career declined, and by the early 1940s he was directing Dead End Kids programmers at Poverty Row Studios like Monogram. After giving up on the film industry, the Mays opened the Blue Danube restaurant in Hollywood with the financial backing of fellow expats such as Billy Wilder, but it, too, was a failure. Joe May died in 1954.
After the war, Simon returned to France, where she made only a handful of films, the best of which were two directed by Max Ophuls, La Ronde (1950) and Le Plaisir (1952). She died in 2005, at the age of 94.
Director: Joe May
Producer: Maurice King, Franklin King
Screenplay: Philip Yordan, John H. Kafka, based on a story by Alice Means Reeve
Cinematography: Ira Morgan
Editor: Martin G. Cohn
Art Direction: Paul Palmentola, George Moskov
Music: W. Franke Harling
Cast: Simone Simon (Kathie Aumont), James Ellison (Mike Burke), William Terry (Johnny Moore), Minna Gombell (Mrs. Collins), Chick Chandler (Jack), Alan Dinehart (Judge), Gladys Blake (Sally), Robert Mitchum (Jeff Daniels).
by Margarita Landazuri