Johnny Eager is an underworld meller with a few new twists to the usual trappings, but by and large it’s the familiar tale [by James Edward Grant] of slick gangster vs innocent rich girl.
Robert Taylor, with his hair slightly ruffled to make him a rough-tough guy, drives a taxi for the benefit of the parole board while directing his underworld activities of slot machines, protection and expected opening of a dog track. Debutante Lana Turner meets him at the parole office, and falls in love with the intriguing ex-convict. After discovering his gangster activities, she holds the secret, but is the victim of a phoney murder staged by Taylor so the latter can control the girl’s stepfather, the crusading prosecutor, and so open the dog track against injunction.
Taylor effectively handles the pretty-boy (not a reflection on him, personally) characterization effectively, with Turner clicking in the acting line and a most easy subject for the men to look at. Van Heflin, as the perpetually-soused companion of Taylor, is outstanding.