Synopsis by Bruce Eder
Go, Johnny, Go! was second and last of a proposed trio of jukebox movies built around and co-produced by DJ Alan Freed. He plays himself in this rags-to-riches tale, told in flashback, of a young rock & roll singer named Johnny Melody (Jimmy Clanton), whose rise from life in an orphanage where no one wanted him to his "discovery" by Freed through an unsolicited demo recording sent to the disc jockey's office is told in 75 minutes, in a dramatic time frame that's impossible to determine. Along the way, Johnny meets a girl (Sandy Stewart) with whom he falls in love, and nearly gets himself arrested when it looks as though everything has turned against him. The plot is a threadbare reprise of the kind of juvenile delinquency-with-music stories that Elvis Presley had been doing, but it offers glimpses of several very worthwhile (and a couple of legendary) music acts of the era who were otherwise undocumented on film: Jimmy Clanton himself, who was one of the best white singers to come out of that New Orleans R&B/rock & roll sound; Sandy Stewart, who was (and is still, 40-plus years later) a serious vocal talent; Chuck Berry, in a pair of performing clips that are brilliant; Ritchie Valens, in his only film appearance, doing a hot rocking number called "Oh, My Head"; Harvey Fuqua of the Moonglows; the Cadillacs, in a pair of killer comic-relief numbers; Jo-Ann Campbell; and Jackie Wilson, showing how little Michael Jackson actually brought to performing that was new more than 20 years later. No, Go, Johnny, Go! isn't A Hard Day's Night, but it is a lot of fun to watch, and is easily the best of Freed's handful of feature films, before his downfall in the payola scandal.
music, choir, church, idol, orphan, performer, promoter, rock-music, songwriter, stars [celebrities], transformation