When Johnny Comes Marching Home
Cast & Crew
War hero Johnny Kovacs returns home to a hero's welcome, but all the private wants to do on his furlough is eat a hot dog and sleep for a week. Instead, he is kept on a day-and-night personal appearance schedule. When he learns that the mayor's daughter, Diana Wellman, has falsely announced their engagement to the press, Johnny is given permission by his commander, Major Donaldson, to go into hiding for the remainder of his leave. He moves back into Nora Flanagan's boardinghouse using his old stage name, Johnny O'Rourke, and immediately draws the attention of Marilyn Benton, the teenage girl friend of Nora's son Frankie. Johnny, however, is more interested in Marilyn's older sister Joyce, who has taken his singing spot in Phil Spitalny's orchestra. At the Coronet Club, Johnny is surprised to learn that Phil now has an "all girl" orchestra, having lost his musicians to military service. Matters become further complicated for Johnny when he must hide from Joyce's boyfriend, Lt. Tommy Bridges, who was part of the military contingent that officially welcomed him back to the United States. Later, Joyce tries to get Johnny to perform with Phil's band at an Army-Navy relief benefit, while, at the same time, Donaldson calls Johnny to warn him that the Wellmans are looking all over town for him. The boarders overhear Johnny's end of the conversation and mistakenly assume that he is a military deserter in hiding. Afterward, Joyce will have nothing to do with Johnny until Marilyn convinces her sister that he needs her help to overcome his cowardice. Later, Joyce warns Johnny that the police have been to the boardinghouse, having traced Donaldson's phone call, and she asks him to give himself up. Rather than tell her why he is really wanted, Johnny becomes upset that all his closest friends think he is a coward. Still trying to make things right, Frankie goes to see Trullers, Wellman's secretary, and asks that his act be included in the benefit. Trullers agrees to cast Frankie's act if it will include Johnny. Before the show, Frankie confesses all to Johnny, and the singer tells the teenager that he has finally decided to "turn himself in." Thinking that Johnny is about to be arrested, Joyce rushes to his side and proclaims her love, only to learn that he is really Johnny Kovacs, the war hero. Tommy then tells Joyce why Johnny was in hiding, and she and Johnny are reunited.
Four Step Brothers
Bernard B. Brown
Joseph A. Burke
Bernard W. Burton
Louis Da Pron
R. A. Gausman
L. Wolfe Gilbert
A. J. Gilmore
F. W. Meacham
Gene De Paul
Peggy Ryan (1924-2004)
Born Margaret O'Rene Ryan on August 28, 1924, in Long Beach, California, Ryan began dancing professionally as a toddler in her parents' vaudeville act, the Dancing Ryans, and was discovered by George Murphy when she was 12. Murphy arranged for young Peggy to dance with him in the Universal musical Top of the Town (1937). She would go on to make a few more film appearances over the next few years - the most striking of which as a starving, homeless girl in John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - yet for the most part, she was hardly noticeable apart from a few dance numbers.
Her luck changed when Universal cast her opposite another teenage hoofer, Donald O'Connor in What's Cookin'? (1942). From then on, they teamed in a series of innocuous musicals that were low on production values, but high on youthful pluck. Just check out some of their titles: Private Buckaroo, Give Out, Sisters!, Get Hep to Love (all 1942); Top Man, Mr. Big (both 1943); Chip Off the Old Block, This Is the Life, and Bowery to Broadway (all 1944). They may have not been high art, but jitterbuggin' kids loved it, and given the low investment Universal put into these pictures, they turned quite the profit.
Her career slowed down after the war. In 1945, she married songwriter James Cross, and didn't return to films until 1949, when she made two minor musicals that year: Shamrock Hill, There's a Girl in My Heart. She divorced Cross in 1952 and met her second husband, dancer Ray McDonald, in her final film appearance, a forgettable musical with Mickey Rooney, All Ashore (1953). Tragically, McDonald died in 1957 after a food choking incident, and the following year, Ryan moved to Honolulu after marrying her third husband, Honolulu Advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman. She kept herself busy teaching dance classes at the University of Hawaii, but in 1969, she found herself back in front of the camera as Jenny Sherman, secretary to Detective Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) on the long-running show Hawaii Five-O,. She played the role for seven years, remaining until 1976.
Eventually, Ryan relocated with her husband to Las Vegas, where for the last few years, she was teaching tap dancing to a whole new generation of hoofers. She is survived by her son, Shawn; daughter Kerry; and five grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Peggy Ryan (1924-2004)
The working titles of this film were Johnny Comes Marching Home and When Johnny Comes Home. According to an August 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item, the Andrews Sisters were originally cast in the picture, but did not appear in the released film. Hollywood Reporter also reported that Howard Christie was originally assigned to this film as the assistant director, but was re-assigned to the Abbott and Costello film It Ain't Hay (see entry above) and was replaced on this film by Melville Shyer.