Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1944)

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(Image via Letterboxd)

Kathie Aumont (Simone Simon) has come to Washington, D. C. where she’ll be starting a job as a defense worker. She’s planning to live with her friend Sally (Gladys Blake), but is in for a surprise. As Sally explains it, “I wrote you on Monday. I met Georgie Thursday!” — Georgie being the name of her new husband, meaning she no longer has a need for a roommate.

So Kathie is stuck with no place to live. Searching for an apartment in the middle of a housing crisis is sure to be difficult, but she gets a lucky break when she meets Johnny Moore (William Terry), who will be vacating his apartment to join the Marines.

Kathie makes a deal to take over Johnny’s apartment, but as she’ll soon discover, Johnny is a very popular man… a popular man who has a habit of giving all of his friends copies of the key to the apartment!

Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore was directed by Joe May.

This film is an example of the ever-enjoyable “housing shortage comedy,” quite common in Hollywood in the ’40s, as a real housing shortage emerged as a result of the war.

It’s an example with a much heftier dose of quirk, however. And that quirk comes from a hallucinated gremlin that appears sporadically throughout! Wacky, but I love it!

Of course, gremlins aside, there’s also some romance in Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. With Johnny himself, it’s unclear if Kathie actually likes him or is just scamming him so she can take over the apartment. (The chemistry between Terry and Simon isn’t high, adding to the ambiguity.)

Johnny’s friend Mike (James Ellison), however, is a different can of worms. He’s a somewhat brash but charming fella, and Ellison shares much stronger chemistry with Simon.

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(Image via The Spinning Image)

The film evolves into a love triangle between Johnny and Mike after each has only met Kathie once, but both have fallen hard for her. The audience is torn, because Mike and Kathie have more chemistry, but Johnny seems sweeter. Who shall Kathie choose? And what role will that pesky gremlin play?

In the role of Kathie, Simone Simon is great to watch. The character has so much confidence. Ellison and Terry are also fun to watch in their shared scenes, as they begin to suspect Kathie of dating another man (played by a young Robert Mitchum!) and join forces to figure out the truth.

There is potential for greater utilization of the gremlin, and potential for more bad-luck comedy beyond the implications that are shown in Kathie’s romantic life, but Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is generally quite fun to watch. Recommended for fans of oddball comedies.

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