Employing my usual lopsided sense of urgency, I announce my transformation from weekly to monthly columnist with a timely (ha!) review of my favorite film. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find it at your local cinema, because “Johnny Come Lately” came out in 1943.
It was produced by and stars one of the best: James Cagney.
Why review that particular movie? Why now? Why today?
Because it is about newspapers, newspapermen (one of whom was a woman), small towns, corruption, courage, integrity, poetry, and the freedom of the press.
And because I am in a sentimental mood about the newspaper you are holding in your hands (or reading on a computer) right this minute – The Evening Sun.
Here’s the story.
The year is 1906. Times are tough, money is scarce, and James Cagney, an ex-newspaper man, has dropped out of society. He rides the rails, a carefree, literate hobo who has recently arrived in town.
The literate part is important because, just as he is laughing over a passage in The Pickwick Papers, Vinnie McLeod, the old lady who publishes The Shield and Banner, comes upon him lolling in the town square. First, she tells Cagney that she met Charles Dickens fifty years ago; then she warns him that if he doesn’t leave quickly, he will be arrested for vagrancy.