Go, Johnny, Go! (1959)

75 mins | Musical comedy | 7 October 1959

Director:

Paul Landres

Writer:

Gary Alexander

Producer:

Alan Freed

Cinematographers:

Edward Fitzgerald, Jack Etra

Production Designer:

McClure Capps

Production Companies:

Valiant Films , Hal Roach Studios
Full page view
HISTORY

The film's working titles were Johnny Melody , The Swinging Story of Johnny Melody and The Swinging Story. Some sources list the title as Go Johnny Go , without punctuation. Actress Barbara Wooddell's surname is misspelled "Woodell" in the cast credits. The title was inspired by Jimmy Clanton's popular single "Go, Jimmy, Go" as well as the refrain from Chuck Berry's hit song "Johnny B. Goode," which is listed as "Johnny Be Good" in the onscreen credits. Berry performs the song over the opening and closing credits. The song "Once Again," which a press fact sheet included in the AMPAS Library file on the film states was sung by Clanton and Sandy Stewart, was not heard in the print viewed. Berry, Clanton and Stewart are the only recording stars to act as well as sing in the film. The others only sing their musical numbers, most in a stage performance setting.
       The 27 Apr 1959 Motion Picture Daily reported that the promotional departments of eight different record companies were exploiting the film. Five of the film's ten recording stars were each responsible for selling a million singles.
       The 30 Mar 1959 Film Bulletin called the film a "minor rock 'n' roll entry" and mentioned that with seventeen songs squeezed into seventy-five minutes of film time, "there is little time wasted on plot or acting."
       Go, Johnny, Go! marked the motion picture debuts of Clanton and Stewart. Clanton made only one other film, the 1961 release Teenage Millionaire (see entry). Go, Johnny, Go! also provided the final screen appearance ... More Less

The film's working titles were Johnny Melody , The Swinging Story of Johnny Melody and The Swinging Story. Some sources list the title as Go Johnny Go , without punctuation. Actress Barbara Wooddell's surname is misspelled "Woodell" in the cast credits. The title was inspired by Jimmy Clanton's popular single "Go, Jimmy, Go" as well as the refrain from Chuck Berry's hit song "Johnny B. Goode," which is listed as "Johnny Be Good" in the onscreen credits. Berry performs the song over the opening and closing credits. The song "Once Again," which a press fact sheet included in the AMPAS Library file on the film states was sung by Clanton and Sandy Stewart, was not heard in the print viewed. Berry, Clanton and Stewart are the only recording stars to act as well as sing in the film. The others only sing their musical numbers, most in a stage performance setting.
       The 27 Apr 1959 Motion Picture Daily reported that the promotional departments of eight different record companies were exploiting the film. Five of the film's ten recording stars were each responsible for selling a million singles.
       The 30 Mar 1959 Film Bulletin called the film a "minor rock 'n' roll entry" and mentioned that with seventeen songs squeezed into seventy-five minutes of film time, "there is little time wasted on plot or acting."
       Go, Johnny, Go! marked the motion picture debuts of Clanton and Stewart. Clanton made only one other film, the 1961 release Teenage Millionaire (see entry). Go, Johnny, Go! also provided the final screen appearance of "rockabilly" performer Eddie Cochran (1938--1960), who died in an automobile crash on 17 Apr 1960, and the only screen appearance of popular teenage idol Ritchie Valens (1941--1959), who died in a plane crash on 3 Feb 1959, along with fellow rock and rollers Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper, shortly after filming his song for the picture.
       Go, Johnny, Go! was also the final film of disc jockey and producer Alan Freed (1921--1965), who had previously appeared in several rock and roll-themed films. Not long after the film's release, Freed became the center of the radio "payola" scandal that ended his career as New York City's major disc jockey. He was the subject of the 1978 biographical musical American Hot Wax , directed by Floyd Mutrux and starring Tim McIntire as Freed. For additional information on payola and Freed's early career, please consult the entry for the 1956 film Rock Around the Clock. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 Apr 1959.
---
Film Bulletin
30 Mar 1959
p. 17.
Film Daily
30 Mar 1959
p. 8.
Filmfacts
1959
p. 347.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jan 1959
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 1959
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1959
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
9 Oct 1959.
---
Motion Picture Daily
27 Apr 1959
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
11 Jul 1959
p. 333.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod supv
Scr supv
Casting
SOURCES
SONGS
Jimmy Clanton's recordings of "My Love Is Strong," music and lyrics by Jimmy Clanton, Hazel Imbregulio, Earl King and Cosimo V. Matassa
"It Takes a Long Time," music and lyrics by Jimmy Clanton and Cosimo V. Matassa
"Ship on a Stormy Sea," music and lyrics by Jimmy Clanton, Cosimo V. Matassa and David Rebennack
+
SONGS
Jimmy Clanton's recordings of "My Love Is Strong," music and lyrics by Jimmy Clanton, Hazel Imbregulio, Earl King and Cosimo V. Matassa
"It Takes a Long Time," music and lyrics by Jimmy Clanton and Cosimo V. Matassa
"Ship on a Stormy Sea," music and lyrics by Jimmy Clanton, Cosimo V. Matassa and David Rebennack
"Angel Face," music and lyrics by Jimmy Clanton, Earl King, Cosimo V. Matassa and John Vincent, courtesy of Ace Records
Chuck Berry's recordings of "Little Queenie," "Memphis Tennessee" and "Johnny B. Goode," music and lyrics by Chuck Berry, courtesy of Chess Records
Sandy Stewart's recordings of "Playmates," music and lyics by Saxie Dowell, and "Heavenly Father," music and lyrics by Edna McGriff, courtesy of East-West Records
Ritchie Valens' recording of "Ooh My Head," music and lyrics by Ritchie Valens, courtesy of Del-Fi Records
Jackie Wilson's recording of "You'd Better Know It," music and lyrics by Jackie Wilson, courtesy of Coral Records
Eddie Cochran's recording of "Teenage Heaven," music and lyrics by Eddie Cochran and Jerry N. Capehart, courtesy of Liberty Records
The Cadillacs' recording of "Jay Walker," music and lyrics by Robert Spencer
"Please, Mr. Johnson," music and lyrics by Esther Navarro and Robert Spencer, courtesy of Jubilee Records
The Flamingos' recording of "Jump, Children," music and lyrics by Dave Bartholomew and Antoine "Fats" Domino, courtesy of End Records
Jo-Ann Campbell's recording of "Momma, Can I Go Out," music and lyrics by Bo Diddley, courtesy of Gone Records
Harvey's recording of "Don't Be Afraid to Love," music and lyrics by Harvey Fuqua, Berry Gordy, Jr., and Billy Davis, courtesy of Chess Records
"Now the Day Is Over," traditional.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Johnny Melody
The Swinging Story
The Swinging Story of Johnny Melody
Release Date:
7 October 1959
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 7 October 1959
Production Date:
began mid January 1959
Copyright Claimant:
Hal Roach Studios
Copyright Date:
12 March 1959
Copyright Number:
LP14169
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording Process
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19262
SYNOPSIS

At Christmastime, disk jockey and record promoter Alan Freed's show at New York City’s Loews State Theater is a huge success, especially for his new young star, Johnny Melody. Backstage, rock and roll star Chuck Berry convinces Alan to tell him the real story of Johnny, whose success, some people say, rested on the toss of a coin: As an orphaned teenager, Johnny is accepted into Mr. Morton's choir, but is soon fired for singing a rock and roll song as another choir member accompanies him on the organ. Johnny decides not to go back to the orphanage, and sometime later is hired as an usher at Loews State. On his first night, when an older usher sees him dancing to the music, he fires Johnny, but allows him to stay for the show, which ends with Alan announcing that he is now searching for a new singing star, whom he intends to name "Johnny Melody." Outside the theater, Julie Arnold, who lived at the same orphanage as Johnny but has not seen him in years, calls out to him. She tells him that she was fortunate to be adopted by wonderful parents and is saddened that Johnny was never adopted. She asks him if he wants her phone number but he declines, saying that he has to save all of his money for a record demo. Just then Alan leaves the theater and is surrounded by fans. Johnny approaches him, saying he wants to be Johnny Melody, but Alan dismisses him, saying that idea was merely a stunt dreamed up by his press agent. Not long after this, Julie, ... +


At Christmastime, disk jockey and record promoter Alan Freed's show at New York City’s Loews State Theater is a huge success, especially for his new young star, Johnny Melody. Backstage, rock and roll star Chuck Berry convinces Alan to tell him the real story of Johnny, whose success, some people say, rested on the toss of a coin: As an orphaned teenager, Johnny is accepted into Mr. Morton's choir, but is soon fired for singing a rock and roll song as another choir member accompanies him on the organ. Johnny decides not to go back to the orphanage, and sometime later is hired as an usher at Loews State. On his first night, when an older usher sees him dancing to the music, he fires Johnny, but allows him to stay for the show, which ends with Alan announcing that he is now searching for a new singing star, whom he intends to name "Johnny Melody." Outside the theater, Julie Arnold, who lived at the same orphanage as Johnny but has not seen him in years, calls out to him. She tells him that she was fortunate to be adopted by wonderful parents and is saddened that Johnny was never adopted. She asks him if he wants her phone number but he declines, saying that he has to save all of his money for a record demo. Just then Alan leaves the theater and is surrounded by fans. Johnny approaches him, saying he wants to be Johnny Melody, but Alan dismisses him, saying that idea was merely a stunt dreamed up by his press agent. Not long after this, Julie, who is also an aspiring singer, completes her record demo in a hired studio. Just as she is leaving, Johnny arrives, with barely enough money for his demo. Because he could not afford to hire a girl to sing with him, Julie happily volunteers to be his female backup singer. When Johnny’s song, "My Love Is Strong," arrives in Alan's office, Alan listens to it but is tired of hearing from all of the singers who want to be Johnny Melody. Chuck and Alan's press agent, Bill Barnett, like the song though, and encourage Alan to select Johnny as his new star. Alan promises to think about the record as the three men leave for the television station where Chuck will be performing that night. Moments later, Johnny and Julie telephone Alan, but when his secretary tells them that Alan is not in, Johnny thinks Alan did not like the record and is upset. After watching Chuck’s performance on television at Julie’s apartment, Johnny plays his trumpet and sings while Julie accompanies him on the piano. When her parents come home, Mr. Arnold offers to speak with Alan, with whom his company advertises, but Johnny declines the offer. Mr. and Mrs. Arnold then invite Johnny and Julie to join them at The Krazy Koffee Kup club, where they watch rock and roll acts. Unknown to them, Alan, Chuck and Bill are also there, talking about "Johnny Melody." Bill and Chuck finally convince Alan to try to find him, even though there was no telephone number or address sent with the demo. After Julie and Johnny dance to Jackie Wilson's song "You'd Better Know It," she sees Alan and convinces Johnny to go to his table. Just as they approach, though, Alan and the others leave, further frustrating Johnny. At 10:00 p.m., when Alan starts his popular radio program, he announces that he has found "Johnny Melody" and wants him to call the radio station so that he can sing on the Christmas program at Loews State. While "My Love Is Strong" is playing, the station is inundated with calls from fans, but not from Johnny, who is in Julie's car and has turned off Alan’s program. Johnny then accompanies Julie back to her apartment, where he asks her what she wants for Christmas. She says she only wants a hit record for him, but when he insists that she ask for something else, she tells him about a pin she saw in a jewelry store that has a musical note with two hearts and reminds her of them. As Julie gets into bed that night, she listens to Alan’s show and hears Johnny's song, which Alan has played every fifteen minutes. She then calls Johnny's boardinghouse, but his landlady, Mrs. McGillacudy, tells her that Johnny left carrying his trumpet after asking her for a good pawnshop, saying "I've got to get that pin, one way or another." Julie then rushes to the radio station, but the show has ended. After a kind janitor tells Julie the name of the club where Alan has gone, she follows him there and introduces herself as Johnny's girl friend and says she thinks she knows where Johnny is. Meanwhile, Johnny, who has been unable to pawn his trumpet, looks despondently at the window of the jewelry shop that is selling the pin Julie likes. When he sees a pile of bricks nearby, he grabs one and thinks about throwing it through the window. A few blocks away, Julie tells Alan, who is frustrated that Johnny was not at the pawnshop, that she is sure he has gone to the jewelry store that is selling the pin she wanted, but she cannot remember if the jewelry store is on 54th or 55th street. Not knowing what else to do, Alan flips a coin to decide which street to try first. They arrive at the jewelry store just after Johnny has thrown a brick through the window and set off the alarm. As they hear a police car approaching, Alan tells Johnny to get into his car with Julie. When the policemen arrive, they see Alan holding the brick and pretending to be drunk, claiming that he threw it out of anger at the jeweler, who sold his wife too much jewelry. The police then arrest Alan but let Julie and Johnny go, thinking they were only bystanders. Johnny is worried about Alan, but Julie assures him that he will be fine. Onstage at Loews State, Alan announces to the audience that that is the story of Johnny Melody. He then introduces Johnny, who sings another song as Julie proudly displays her engagement ring. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.