Go, Johnny, Go! (1958)

“Make it happen out there, Johnny! Swing it!”

Synopsis:
Rock ‘n roll deejay Alan Freed tells Chuck Berry the story of a fictional orphan (Jimmy Clanton) who becomes beloved rock star “Johnny Melody”.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary points out, this rock musical has a “paper-thin story”, “static direction by Lew Landers”, and an “overly rude, chip-on-his-shoulder portrayal by Clanton, which makes one think Johnny doesn’t deserve a break”. My advice is to ignore the lame storyline altogether, and focus instead on the run of “solid-gold” musical performances by 1950s legends such as the Cadillacs, the Flamingos, Eddie Cochran, and Ritchie Valens (singing “Ooh My Head” in what Peary believes “is the only extant footage of him”). As Peary notes, “you’ll love how teenagers and adults on-screen react to this music”; meanwhile, he provides an interesting bit of trivia by pointing out that, because “rock ‘n’ roll was going through an image problem”, the stars are all “well groomed and unthreatening”.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Ritchie Valens in his only (?) on-screen performance
  • The Cadillacs performing “Jay Walker” and “Please Mr. Johnson”

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look for the musical acts, which are indeed a treat. However, this one really should have been a performance film rather than a pseudo-biopic.

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One Response to “Go, Johnny, Go! (1958)”

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    As a nostalgic piece, this is less charming than it is silly. It’s true that the ‘story’ is forgettable but worse is the lame dialogue. It would be nice to think that the songs and musical performances make the film worthwhile – but…that’s not really true (at least in my opinion). …Though I do think Chuck Berry does a nice job with ‘Memphis, Tennessee’. (Alas, Valens’ ‘Ooh! My Head’ has its focus stolen midway.)

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