Johnny One-Eye (1950): Robert Florey’s Film Noir, Starring Pat O’Brien and Wayne Morris (Gay Subtext)

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Robert Florey directed Johnny One-Eye a crime film noir, from Damon Runyon’s story, starring Pat O’Brien, Wayne Morris, Dolores Moran and Gayle Reed.

Florey is widely acclaimed as one of the best directors working in major studio B-films.” (see below).

O’Brien plays former gangster turned legit businessman Martin, who has become the target of a politically ambitious district attorney. The latter has offered immunity for Martin’s former crime, Dane Cory, in exchange for his testimony.

After being informed about the deal and escaping arrest, Martin visits Cory to persuade him not to testify. The meeting ends up with a shootout. Martin kills one of Cory’s henchmen and is hit himself before fleeing. With his picture on newspaper, and reward on his head, Martin decides to hide in abandoned house.

While recovering for final assault on Cory, he adopts an injured stray dog and names him Johnny One-Eye.

This was next to last film of French American director, Robert Florey, who was highly prolific from the late 1920s onward, boasting a career output of over 50 pictures.

His most popular film is the first Marx Brothers feature, The Cocoanuts in 1929. His 1932 Universal-style horror, Murders in the Rue Morgue, is regarded a sampler of German expressionist horror movie.

In 2006, as his 1937 Daughter of Shanghai was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Gay Subtext

The scenes between Ambrose and Cute Freddie (that’s the name of the character, played by Harry Branson) generated erotic tension with enigmatic dialogue and exchange of look), which made Joseph Breen of the PCA nervous.  Breen demanded to censor the scene, because of its gay innuendos, but it has remained.

Pat O’Brien as Martin Martin
Wayne Morris as Dane Cory
Dolores Moran as Lily White
Gayle Reed as Elsie White
Donald Woods as Vet
Barton Hepburn as Cory Henchman
Raymond Largay as Lawbooks
Lawrence Cregar as Ambrose
Forrest Taylor as Man on Street who quotes Lord Byron
Lester Allen as Designer-Choreographer
Jimmy Little as Captain of Police
Jack Overman as Lippy
Lyle Talbot as Official from District Attorney’s Office
Harry Bronson as Cute Freddy