» » Janie (1944)

Short summary

Janie is a scatter-brained and high spirited teenage girl living in the small town of Hortonville. World War II causes the establishment of an army camp just outside town. Janie and her bobby soxer friends have their hearts set aflutter by the prospect of so many young soldiers residing nearby. Which fella will they choose? But if Janie's family has a say in the matter...

At the beginning of the film the Conway house has a vegetable garden covering the entire front lawn. During WWII these were called "Victory Gardens" as people were encouraged by the government to be more self-sufficient, and was also in this case a prominent sign of patriotism.

Warner Bros. had plans for a series of "Janie" films, but those plans were shelved when Joyce Reynolds married and temporarily retired. However, due to the popularity of this film, Warner made one more - Janie Gets Married (1946) with Joan Leslie playing the lead.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: SoSok
    This was a very comical film starring Edward Arnold, (Charles Conway) who owns a newspaper in Hortonville and he has two daughters Janie Conway, (Joyce Reynolds) who is a pretty teenage girl of 18 years and she has a little sister named Elsbeth Conway, (Clare Foley) who is seven years of age and a great actress in this picture. Janie is a very liked girl in her town and she has many girl friends and one boy friend she grew up with. Charles Conway finds out that the Army are going to be stationed in their town and he is not in favor of this idea and writes editorials about this subject in his paper. The Army does arrive and this creates plenty of problems for the local town folks. However, Janie is always finding ways to have parties and eventually she gets involved with an entire base marching into her house for a party. Clare Foley gave an outstanding performance along with Edward Arnold, Robert Hutton, (Pfc Dick Lawrence). This was a film made during World War II and was a morale builder for the American Fighting men and was very well produced.
  • comment
    • Author: Keth
    Now we know how America won the war. There's more sheer bounce and energy in this 1944 family comedy than in the Nazi invasion of Poland. The gag lines and wisecracks fly faster than speeding bullets, while director-General Raoul Walsh cranks up the movie engine to jet speed. Note the constant movement inside the house as people are always going here and there. Shrewd move-- adapting a film from a stage play is like moving into a a coat closet if you're not careful. Not much of a plot-- something about soldier-boys coming to steal the local girls from their highschool sweethearts, creating a big commotion at the same time.

    But who cares, with such a great cast right down to bratty little Elspeth who gets all the good lines and does nothing without being paid. Already she's learned our great economic lesson. The trouble is Dad can't figure out the younger generation because he's forgotten his own, while Mom can't seem to figure out which service uniform to wear. But that's alright because she looks good in all of them. And of course there's Janie, all spunk and glow, with her own army of boy-hungry pals. Together, they keep the phones buzzing with enough animal pizazz to light up a defense factory.

    Check out the cutting-edge teens of the day-- taking a blanket on a "smooching" date with just a few hundred others. Now Dad's in an uproar when he finds out, but that's nothing compared to what he and Mom find after coming home late. There's the sailor in the bedroom, the soldier in the bathroom, and the wall gone flat in the living-room. Naturally, there's an innocent explanation for everything. And, of course, the invading servicemen were nothing but gentlemen the whole time.

    Hard to believe that boys like these were dying by the thousands on the beach-heads of Normandy and Saipan. None of that here. After all, it's the Janie's of the world, safe and shielded, that the boys were fighting for. Even if it's just 90 minutes, what a great escape from all those other horrors. This is small town America, about to undergo a sea change. You can hear the waves lapping already. It's really not just the army that's come to Hortonville; it's the outside world. And all the malt shops, "smooching" parties, and small town innocence will never be the same once the war ends. This is not only a darn good little comedy-- but also a darn good little time capsule worth preserving.
  • comment
    • Author: heart of sky
    Janie is a pleasant family comedy that had its origins as a successful play on Broadway running 642 performances during the 1942-44 seasons on Broadway. Warner Brothers bought the film rights and brought the film to the movie-going public the same year the play closed on Broadway. It certainly reflects more innocent times.

    Young Janie is your typical teen of the times, having romantic thoughts mostly instigated by the fact there is an army camp just been built in her sleepy little Midwest town of Hortonville. All those soldiers around may excite her, but for her father Edward Arnold town newspaper publisher and former doughboy from the last war who remembers what soldiers are like, they're oversexed and over here and the sooner we get them off to war the easier he'll feel.

    Janie played by Joyce Reynolds gets the idea to have an intimate gathering for her girl friends and their soldier dates at home and gets Arnold and her mother Ann Harding out for the evening. But her civilian high school sweetheart Richard Erdman gets on the horn and pretty soon Janie's got a regular USO going at her house for the evening. Worst of all her own soldier beau Robert Hutton is stuck on a bus with her little sister Clare Foley. Hutton by the way looks like a pale imitation of Jimmy Stewart.

    Janie got an Oscar nomination for Editing, but the highlight of the film for me is the lone musical number Keep Your Powder Dry performed in Busby Berkley style by the partygoers which include the Williams Brothers Quartet with that youngest Williams brother Andy who had a solo career of sorts, future head Mouseketeer Jimmy Dodd, and even Hattie McDaniel who is Arnold's and Harding's maid. As usual Hattie gets some devastating lines.

    Although the mores of the times have changed and Janie has a most old fashioned look, I hope someone put a print of this film in a time capsule. The vacuum will keep it pristine and some folks in the future will have an idea of the American home front in 1944.
  • comment
    • Author: Bluddefender
    I usually find movies of this era a little too slow or dull, this one kept me. It was humorous and well paced, nostalgic. Nothing too serious, but not too goofy either. Of course the girls were all immaculately dressed and the costumes and scripting for phrases was excellent. The premise was the same as what they use to build sitcoms today, Small town girl has beau that she has grown up with, romantic older fellow in uniform sweeps her off her feet, girl is torn between childhood ties and grownup romance...girl plans small affair while her parents are out, huge crowd shows up, party ensues and is broken up by the police and all of the characters still love each other in the end; all of the little side plots are happily resolved and that's the end. Good family film. (doesn't Janie look remarkably like Geena Davis?!?)
  • comment
    • Author: Billy Granson
    What would otherwise have been an average B comedy produced to provide light entertainment and escape for World War II audiences is actually quite remarkable when viewed today.

    First, it was directed by Michael Curtiz who, though no stranger to directing B movies earlier in his career, had just won an Academy Award the previous year (Casablanca (1942)) with his fourth Best Director nomination. But the best reason for watching this film is to gain insights into the teenage dating scene of its era, and how both adult and adolescent attitudes have evolved (or not).

    Though for the most part it portrays the G-rated innocence common in most live action Disney films of the 1960's and 70's, there are more than a few references to the similarities between the teens of that time and that of their parents – only the lexicon has changed (e.g. smooching instead of spooning)! Josephine Bentham and Herschel V. Williams Jr. wrote the play that was adapted for the screen by Charles Hoffman and Agnes Christine Johnston. Owen Marks earned his second Oscar nomination for Film Editing.

    Joyce Reynolds plays the title role of Janie, the teenage daughter of Charles (Edward Arnold) and Lucille (Ann Harding) Conway. As a senior in high school, she is comfortable with who she is and what she does even though she feels the need to shield her parents from some of her activities. However when confronted by her father, who disapproves of her attending a blanket party – kissing her longtime boyfriend Scooper (Dick Erdman) – at night in the park with most of the rest of her classmates, she defends her decision to participate by reminding him that he and her mother must have gone on dates similarly in their day. "Besides, how else is one supposed to decide whom to marry?"

    But her father is a letter writer who sends his opinions to be published on the editorial page of their local newspaper. His latest issue is the U.S. Army's plan to locate a training camp in their small town of Hortonville. He feels that men in uniform will overwhelm the town's impressionable young girls – like his daughter – and that they should therefore locate their facility elsewhere. His fears are realized when one of the soldiers – Private First Class Dick Lawrence (Robert Hutton), the son of one of his Lucille's former bridesmaids Thelma (Barbara Brown) – shows an interest in Janie.

    Robert Benchley plays John Van Brunt, Charles's longtime friend and Hortonville resident who's also a confirmed bachelor until he meets Thelma. Clare Foley just about steals the picture as Janie's stereotypical wiseacre little sister Elsbeth; she says all the good punch-lines. Alan Hale plays a key part late in the story (as does Russell Hicks) and Hattie McDaniel is the Conway's good natured maid April. Jackie Moran and Ann Gillis are among the others that play teenager roles. 'Billy' Benedict appears uncredited as a soda jerk.
  • comment
    • Author: TheFresh
    According to TCM, "Janie" was made by Warner Brothers to try to cash in on the success of MGM's Andy Hardy series. Like the Hardy films, "Janie" features a goofy teenager, a well respected father who is often flummoxed, a mother, a sister and a housekeeper....though the father here, Charles Conway (Edward Arnold) seemed a bit more flummoxed as "Janie" seems a bit more likely to make it to second base than Andy.

    Joyce Reynolds stars as the title character. She only made about a dozen films, so it's safe to say that the series never caught on. In fact, they only made one other film in the series...but with Joan Leslie playing the character. The film's main plot involves Janie's two romances--with her classmate, 'Scooper' as well as a soldier waiting to be shipped out, Dick.

    To me, "Janie" is only a bit like the Hardy films. Yes, the family constellation is similar but much more shrill and chaotic...sort of like if the Hardys were all crack addicts!! So, the emphasis is less on charm and more on barraging the audience with crazy antics. I am not saying it's necessarily bad...but it's not the Hardys. Some of this is due to the super-bratty little sister...a plot device that wears thin after a while. The sing-a-long in the second half of the film is also problematic--making it seem more like an overtly patriotic film instead of the subtle Harady-style film. And, unlike Andy, you can imagine Janie making it way past first or second base--especially with all those lusty soldiers hanging about during the party sequence! Overall, the film is a moderately enjoyable time passer and nothing more.
  • comment
    • Author: Dddasuk
    Janie is a cute little piece of fluff with a few good laughs, but I must say the patriotic stance it takes really killed the fantasy. This sort of WWII down-with-Hitler, hurray-for-the-military talk was common at the time, I realize, but Janie's excuse for her big party, not for fun but for the well being of the army and navy, and the nation at large, just added an extra "message" layer that wasn't necessary to enjoy the movie. Other than that, it was fun to see all of Janie's boy-hungry girlfriends yelling "jeepers" and "golly" all over the place. I must say the musical number took me aback at first, but it surprised me how enjoyable it was. If only everyone could sing in perfect harmony at house parties...
  • comment
    • Author: Karg
    Joyce Reynolds seems a might grown-up for the role of Janie, a boy-crazy sixteen-year old in small town America who ditches her steady guy for a visiting soldier AND winds up on the cover of Life magazine (smooching at a blanket party) all in the same week! Non-stop barrage of wisecracks, put-downs, bull talk, and unfunny bits of business such as Janie's little sister bribing family members, Hattie McDaniel (as the maid) constantly scuttling after sassy kid sis, Janie's mother involved with the Red Cross, and Janie's father trying to write an editorial on the problems with today's teenagers (as the parents, stuffy, sexless Edward Arnold and pert, chatty Ann Harding make an unlikely couple, even for 1944; he looks incapable of helping to conceive a child much less raising two of them). Nominated for an Academy Award (!) for Owen Marks' editing, Warner Bros. followed this in 1946 with "Janie Gets Married". Reynolds must have outgrown her co-horts by then--she was replaced by Joan Leslie. *1/2 from ****
  • comment
    • Author: ℓo√ﻉ
    Producer: Alex Gottlieb. Copyright 2 September 1944 by Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. A Warner Bros.-First National picture. New York opening at the Strand: 4 August 1944. U.S. release: 25 July 1944. U.K. release: 22 February 1945. Australian release: 28 February 1946. Running times: 106 minutes (US); 95 minutes (Aust).

    NOTES: The stage play opened on Broadway at the Henry Miller on 10 September 1942 and ran a remarkable 642 performances. Gwen Anderson, Howard St John and Linda Watkins starred. Antoinette Perry directed. Incredibly, Owen Marks was nominated for an Oscar for Best Film Editing, losing to Barbara McLean's Wilson. Sequel: Janie Gets Married.

    COMMENT: Janie is every bit as bad as the players, synopsis of the story and a contemporary New York Times review by Bosley Crowther led us to expect. Its only redeeming promise lay in the movie credits, but regrettably these gentlemen all let us down. The film is very sloppily and often atrociously edited and Mike Curtiz lets his players run riot. Admittedly the script is very weak, but no amount of excess fulminating by Ed Arnold could improve it.

    Miss Reynolds makes Janie a precocious twit and Robert Hutton is a dill. Richard Erdman does what he can with the painfully ridiculous role of Scooper. Robert Benchley glides through the motions of his role with customary hand-out-for-his-weekly-pay-check aplomb. As far as production values are concerned, it's little more than a photographed stage play with a few crowd scenes thrown in.
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Joyce Reynolds Joyce Reynolds - Janie Conway
    Robert Hutton Robert Hutton - Pfc. Dick Lawrence
    Edward Arnold Edward Arnold - Charles Conway
    Ann Harding Ann Harding - Lucille Conway
    Alan Hale Alan Hale - Prof. Matthew Q. Reardon
    Robert Benchley Robert Benchley - John Van Brunt
    Clare Foley Clare Foley - Elsbeth Conway
    Barbara Brown Barbara Brown - Thelma Lawrence
    Hattie McDaniel Hattie McDaniel - April - Conway's Maid
    Richard Erdman Richard Erdman - Scooper Nolan (as Dick Erdman)
    Jackie Moran Jackie Moran - Mickey - a Sailor
    Ann Gillis Ann Gillis - Paula Rainey
    Russell Hicks Russell Hicks - Col. Lucas - Commander Camp Wingate
    Ruth Tobey Ruth Tobey - Bernadine Dodd
    Virginia Patton Virginia Patton - Carrie Lou
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