Wayne in the Movies

Oh, Johnny!

Oh, Johnny! was filmed in 1918 at the Walmarthon Estate, in St. Davids. The film was directed by Ira M. Lowry, and was produced by Sigmund Lubin, who ran the Betzwood Studios in Valley Forge. Shortly after the making of the movie, Betzwood Studios was sold. Lubin was responsible for many film studios across the country, the most advanced of which was in Philadelphia, and also opened numerous theatres across Philadelphia.

Oh, Johnny! was a Western comedy, was written by Wilson Bayley, and the cinematography was by David Calcagni. The film is especially important locally because it shows the Walmarthon water wheel, a dinner party on the estate’s patio, and swimming and diving in Willow Lake. There are also scenes inside the mansion.

The full cast includes:

Louis Bennison as Johnny Burke
Alphonse Ethier as John Bryson
Edward Roseman as Charlie Romero
John Daly Murphy as Van Pelt Butler
Frank Goldsmith as Earl of Barncastle
Virginia Lee (I) as Adele Butler
Anita Cortez as Dolores
Louise Brownell as Mrs. Van Pelt Butler
Russell Simpson as Adele’s Father
Frank Evans (I) as Undetermined Role (uncredited)
Ralph Naim as Undetermined Role (uncredited)

The original Betzwood Studio in Valley Forge today, unfortunately falling to ruin.
Click on the image to see a larger version
Photo courtesy of The Waltonian

The Philadelphia Story

It is no secret around the Main Line that The Philadelphia Story, starring Katherine Hepburn and James Stewart, was based upon the life of Hope Montgomery Scott, of Radnor’s famous Montgomery Scott family. It is, however, little known that a scene in the 1949 movie was filmed right in Wayne. The Wayne Memorial Library, on Lancaster Ave. directly across from the Anthony Wayne Movie Theatre, was used to film a single scene in the movie.


Anyone who can provide more information on the production of Taps and the influence the movie had on Wayne would be much appreciated.

Starring George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn and Tom Cruise, Taps is the story of Military Academy Cadets who try to save their School from imposing condo developers. A warlike cloud descends on the town as the overly militaristic cadets do anything to protect their school. A warlike cloud also fell upon Wayne as the movie was being filmed in 1980 and 1981. The Military Academy used for the film was none other than Valley Forge Military Academy. Taps was one of Tom Cruise’s first movies, and was Sean Penn’s debut role. Several of the main actors, including Hutton, Cruise and Penn, went through a 45 day long orientation and training at VFMA. Most of these actors did well at the training, and even enjoyed it, although Tom Cruise decided his time was better spent relaxing at a local hotel. It’s not known what hotel this was, although it was likely one on the Main Line.

The Suburban and Wayne Times donated their front window to be used for a Cafe. The Lancaster County Farmer’s Market made an appearance. Numerous other local landmarks can be seen throughout the movie. One of the pivitol scenes in the movie took place on North Wayne Avenue, where one of the cadets’ two trucks break down, and they are assaulted by a town gang. Pictures from this scene can be seen below. One Wayne resident at the time said it seemed to be the “biggest thing ever to hit Wayne.” Ironically, in 2000 the Valley Forge Military Academy was trying to build a condo-like establishment on their property. Though no cadets rebelled, the surrounding neighborhood sure did.