The Big Clock


Action / Crime / Drama / Film-Noir / Mystery / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 81%
IMDb Rating 7.7 10 6440


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May 04, 2014 at 05:29 AM



Noel Neill as Elevator Operator
Harry Morgan as Bill Womack
Charles Laughton as Earl Janoth
Elsa Lanchester as Louise Patterson
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753.66 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 35 min
P/S 1 / 1
1.44 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 35 min
P/S 2 / 8

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 10 / 10

One of the best movies ever made!

A Paramount production, released 9 April 1948, directed by John Farrow from a screenplay by Jonathan Latimer, based on the 1946 novel by Kenneth Fearing. Photographed by Daniel L. Fapp and John F. Seitz. Produced by Richard Maibaum and John Farrow. 95 minutes. (Available on a 10/10 Universal DVD).

Plot: A dictatorial magazine publisher, Earl Janoth (Charles Laughton), orders his chief reporter, George Stroud (Ray Milland), to institute a hunt for a missing murder witness. Stroud himself is that witness.

The author: Kenneth Fearing was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1902. He died in 1961. After working as a newspaper reporter in Chicago, he moved to New York where, whilst continuing to write articles for newspapers and magazines, he gained a considerable reputation as a poet. In fact, he published at least five collections of poems. Although his later books were not as warmly received as his earlier Angel Arms (1929) or Poems (1935), he continued to contribute to The New Yorker and Poetry right up to his death. Of his novels, "The Big Clock" proved far and away the most successful, both with critics and public, and it was the only one to be turned into a movie.

The book: A comparatively short novel of around 50,000 words, "The Big Clock" is a book which even a slow reader could manage in three or four hours. Using a narrative structure borrowed from Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone (1868), it provides "George Stroud" with the opportunity to contribute eleven chapters, Earl Janoth himself three, while Steve Hagen (Janoth's evil henchman, menacingly brought to life in the movie by George Macready), Edward Orlin (called Edwin Orlin in the movie), Georgette Stroud (played by director John Farrow's real-life wife, Maureen O'Sullivan, in the movie), Emory Mafferson (a minor character—a reporter—omitted in the film) and even the dotty artist, Louise Patterson (played in the film by Laughton's real-life wife, Elsa Lanchester), provide one chapter each. Oddly enough, "The Big Clock" itself does not have a visual counterpart in the book. It simply refers to Time.

The movie: The plot and characters in the book are more or less the same as in the movie, except that in the film version—surprise! surprise!—both are more fully developed. In the novel, the climax fizzles out when Janoth suddenly loses control and exits, off-camera as it were. The climax in the film is certainly far more exciting and, what I regard as more important, it is developed logically and convincingly.

Only one character in the book seems more interesting than his movie counterpart. Oddly enough, this is George Stroud. Our hero has been ironed out for the film, partly because of censorship problems and partly because it was thought necessary to present a clear-cut, clean-cut hero with whom audiences could readily identify. On the other hand, the Janoth of the book is a mere shadow of the terrifyingly obese, self-preserving tycoon of the movie.

Other characters that screenwriter Jonathan Latimer has made far more fascinating include Janoth's henchman, Billy (in the book, he is not dumb, merely noted for keeping silent), the glib McKinley (the novel gives his real name as Clyde Norbert Polhemus, but he never actually appears on-stage), and even Steve Hagen (in the book, Janoth makes no attempt to persuade Hagen to take his place).

Director John Farrow has handled the movie with such a sure hand, making such instinctively artful use of his players, his camera and his sets, that many (including me) regard it as his best film. He himself, however, told me that he actually preferred another film in which he worked with screenwriter Latimer and actor Milland, namely "Alias Nick Beal".

Reviewed by evanston_dad 7 / 10

Race Against the Clock

This nifty little noir stars Ray Milland as a hot shot employee in a publishing firm who becomes the fall guy for his boss, played unctuously by Charles Laughton, when the boss commits murder. As the film's title suggests, time, and a race against it, is a running motif and provides some propulsive suspense to the action. In a fashion typical in films like this, the undoing of the villain relies on the flimsiest of plot mechanics, but, also typically for films of this kind, we don't care all that much about the specifics and instead enjoy the stylish ride.

Grade: B+

Reviewed by secondtake 7 / 10

Never mind the clock--it's the sundial, stupid!

The Big Clock

I'm not a big fan of Ray Milland, the leading man here, but he has energy and pulls off a kind of Jimmy Stewart fellow pretty well. I am, for sure, a big fan of two other actors here, Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester, who are great, and of the cinematographer, John Seitz. It is Seitz who makes this movie launch and go far, right from the get go, with a really nice establishing shot merging into a moving camera interior scene.

Milland is not bad, of course—he's better in normal dramatic roles like his most famous as an alcoholic in "The Lost Weekend"—but he lacks both the everyman ease of Stewart and the troubled dramatic noir intensity of Bogart or Mitchum. His predicament opens the movie, ominously, in classic noir fashion with voice-over, and within a heartbeat we are in a flashback getting to the backstory.

The little trick of the plot (having the main characters involved in a crime solving magazine) is great fun, actually, and never seems contrived. The title however points to a weird quirk in the whole works, a highly elaborate clock that is sort of forced onto the situation, and really isn't very integral to the plot after all (even if it's used dramatically a couple of times). Mostly this is a noir about a fairly normal guy and a crime he ends up having to solve, a la Hitchcock.

The femme fatale here, Maureen O'Sullivan, is great, and Laughton is his quirky self, with mustache. Look for Harry Morgan ("Dragnet" and "Mash") in a weird fun role.

Mostly just enjoy a well constructed, offbeat noir-ish crime film and the great visuals throughout.

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