Cast & Crew
When the town of Hortonville is chosen as the site for an army base, newspaper editor Charles Conway writes a concerned editorial about the effect that the soldiers will have on high school girls like his seventeen-year-old daughter Janie. Janie compounds her father's worries when she accompanies her friend, Wilber "Scooper" Nolan, to a blanket party. Although the party is innocent, a photographer from Life takes pictures of the teenagers eating, dancing and necking. While Charles travels to Washington, D.C. in an attempt to obtain a needed printing press, the army moves into town. As feared, all the girls become preoccupied with the soldiers, and Charles returns home to find a picture of Janie and Scooper kissing on the cover of Life . He also discovers his friend, John Van Brunt, ensconced in the family guest room because the hotel was commandeered by the army. Then Lucile, Charles' wife, gets a call from her old friend, Thelma Lawrence, a widow, whose son Dick, an army private, is now stationed in Hortonville. On an impulse, Lucile invites Thelma to stay with them. Expecting to hate Dick, Janie is pleasantly surprised to find that he is very attractive, and Dick returns her feelings, causing Scooper to become jealous. After telling Janie how much he cares for her, Scooper swears that he is through with women. When Dick and Janie learn that the adults are all going to an American Legion dance, they make a date to spend the evening together. Their plans are thwarted, first by Janie's younger sister Elsbeth, who proclaims her intent to stay up all night, then by Janie's girl friends, who have invited their dates to meet them at Janie's house as their own parents refuse to let them go out with soldiers because of Charles's editorial. After Janie convinces Elsbeth to spend the night with their grandmother, Dick accompanies her to the bus. In the meantime, Scooper calls the base and invites all available soldiers to a party at Janie's house to prevent her from being alone with Dick. Making the best of it, the girls in turn invite all their friends, and April, the Conway's maid, happily cooks enough hot dogs to feed everyone. Still intending to stay up all night, Elsbeth directs Dick to the wrong bus, where they meet Professor Reardon, a former teacher of Dick's and the man responsible for allotting a printing press to Charles. Dick entrusts Elsbeth to Reardon and hurries back to Janie's to find the party in full swing. The neighbors complain about the noise, and the party breaks up just before Janie's parents and the military police arrive, leaving the house in a terrible mess. When a colonel from the base arrives to survey the damage, Janie makes an impassioned speech in defense of the soldiers, and after Elsbeth brings Reardon home, everything is happily resolved. Soon the soldiers are sent overseas, but just as they say goodbye, a group of Marines marches into town.
Georgia Lee Settle
Frederick De Cordova
Leo F. Forbstein
George James Hopkins
Agnes Christine Johnston
C. A. Riggs
Jack L. Warner
A previous hit on the Broadway stage, Janie was similar in some ways to Four Daughters (1938), with its middle-class setting and numerous romances. But the accent was on humor in Janie with the central premise of adolescent girls developing crushes on visiting soldiers being treated in a charmingly naive way, devoid of any lewd suggestiveness. If anything, Janie certainly depicted the extreme reversal of author J.D. Salinger's take on Forties youth, remaining for its fans a fascinating and entertaining document of that era's innocence.
Determined to find an actress with the same youthful, all-American appeal of Judy Garland and Lana Turner (in the Andy Hardy series), Warner cast the little known Joyce Reynolds as Janie, but wisely surrounded her with such beloved character actors as Edward Arnold, Alan Hale, Robert Benchley and Hattie McDaniel - the latter particularly exuberant during the production when, at 49, the veteran character actress announced she was pregnant (sadly, her condition would soon be revealed as a false pregnancy). Hardcore movie buffs should take special delight in the early appearances of B-Western icon Sunset Carson (as a sergeant), singer Andy Williams (with his brothers) providing entertainment at a party scene, and, very briefly, the original Mickey Mouse Club's host Jimmie Dodd. In addition, former screen child stars Jackie Moran and Ann Gillis were also tossed into the package while newcomer Robert Hutton was signed as Reynolds "true" romantic interest. Best of all, Michael Curtiz, one of Warner Brothers' most reliable directors, was tapped to helm the project and he had just recently completed Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) and Casablanca (1942). He had also scored a hit with the aforementioned Four Daughters.
Under Curtiz's direction, Janie became one of Warner's biggest hits of 1944 (grossing nearly two million dollars domestically!), and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Editing (by Owen Marks); the award would go instead to the lavish Technicolor biography, Wilson). Pleased with Janie's success, Warner reassembled most of the cast for the inevitable follow-up, Janie Gets Married (1946), but replaced the engaging Reynolds with the studio's favorite all-American girl, Joan Leslie. The result paled next to its predecessor and Reynolds went on to appear in Wallflower (1948), a tired retread of the Janie formula (which also re-cast Edward Arnold and Robert Hutton in similar roles). The actress concluded her Warners tenure the following year with Always Together (once more opposite Hutton), appearing not as Janie, but as a character named Jane!
As is often the case in Hollywood, Paramount, searching for a similar property to Janie, optioned Dear Ruth(1947), another Broadway comedy, and made it into a film starring William Holden and Joan Caulfield. This dose of deja vu was further sweetened by the casting of Arnold in essentially the same role of the flustered father. It went through the roof, siring two sequels, and, presumably, much Warner wrath. It also proved to be too much for the author J.D. Salinger, who, in the final process of assembling his notes for what would become one of the most influential novels of the 20th century - Catcher in the Rye - sardonically eyed Ruth's marquee - vengefully jotting down the last names of its two leads.
Producer: Alex Gottlieb
Director: Michael Curtiz
Screenplay: Charles Hoffman, Agnes Christine Johnston
Based on the play by Josephine Bentham and Herschel V. Williams, Jr. Art Direction: Robert M. Haas
Cinematography: Carl Guthrie
Editing: Owen Marks
Music: Heinz Roemheld, Franz Waxman, Sammy Cahn, Lee David, Jule Styne
Cast: Joyce Reynolds (Janie Conway), Robert Hutton (Pvt. Dick Lawrence), Edward Arnold (Charles Conway), Ann Harding (Lucille Conway), Robert Benchley (John Van Brunt), Alan Hale (Reardon).
BW-103m. Closed captioning.
by Mel Neuhaus
Although Joyce Reynolds was "introduced" in her onscreen billing, this was not her film debut. Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: Columbia Pictures completely financed the stage play and received $40,000 of the $100,000 that Warner Bros. paid for the film rights. Cora Sue Collins was considered for the role of "Janie." Edward Arnold was borrowed from M-G-M and Robert Benchley was borrowed from Paramount for the project. Some scenes were shot on location at Malibu Lake, California. Owen Marks was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Editing. Janie was the first film in a proposed "Janie" series. After Joyce Reynolds married and temporarily retired from films, Warner Bros. dropped plans for the series. A Hollywood Reporter news item dated March 6, 1945 notes that the studio revived the idea due to popular demand and subsequently went on to produce one other film, Janie Gets Married with Joan Leslie (see below).