The first of the Betzwood feature-length cowboy films starring Louis Bennison, Oh! Johnny! was based in part on Bennison’s long running theatrical piece, Johnny Get Your Gun. The production of the Bennison westerns at Betzwood is discussed at some length in the article, The Smilin’ Cowboy.
The film was thought to be lost until the summer of 1992 when the master negatives for this and another Bennison film, High Pockets, were discovered in a barn near Norristown. They were still in their original packing crates with the studio’s labels on them. After the Betzwood Film Archive acquired the negatives, they were taken to the film labs of the Museum of Modern Art where they were conserved and our 16mm copies were made. The original nitrate negatives were donated to MoMA with the Betzwood Film Archive and MoMA jointly holding the rights to the films. While both films had suffered losses to nitrate decomposition, enough survived to make it possible to screen the films for audiences. In addition to utilizing the western village on the studio lot, Oh! Johnny! was partly filmed on the Walton estate in Radnor, the property that is now the campus of Eastern University. Some features of the estate seen in the film can still be glimpsed on the University’s campus.
Betzwood Film Company, 1918. Directed by Ira M. Lowry. Starring Louis Bennison, Virginia Lee, Edward Roseman, and Anita Cortez.